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Call No. t b^}*kl fa | TJ Accession No. 2- 9 2 / 2L 



This book should be returneeron or before the date last marked below, 





Professor and Chairman of the Department 
of Sociology, University of Illinois 






All rights reserved. This book, or 

parts thereof, may not be reproduced 

in any form without permission of 

the publishers. 


The discussion of public opinion and of the opinion process offers many 
difficulties. There is the tangled, matted field of opinion theory. It is a 
field cluttered with the stumps of the once mighty theoretical particular- 
isms, a field in which a dense underbrush has grown, in which there are 
confusing brambles of terminological disputation and an infinite thicket 
of psychological descriptions. It is not to be readily cleared by the 
beavering tactics of a petty scholarship or by little brush pickers or small, 
controversial conflagration makers. It calls for a master synthesizer, 
who, stoutly implemented with tools of original keenness, can cut a clear 
path to the other side. While awaiting such a man, perhaps we can 
beaver a little. 

For the most part I have used simple, nontechnical terms in this dis- 
cussion. But not in all cases. At the present time, no one can write on 
the field of public opinion in terms satisfactory to all his readers. If an 
author uses simple terms, satisfactory to the general reader, he ignores 
the pyramid of language hastily thrown up in recent years by the specialist 
in this field. These special terms are invented ostensibly to provide an 
exact definitive terminology of non-emotion-arousing words suitable for 
use among scientists. The absence of most of these terms would provide 
the basis for an indictment of the author as an outsider, an outlander, 
a stranger to the code of the jousts. As language is truly a bond of unity, 
he might be expelled into the outer darkness. On the other hand, if the 
author bandies about this esoteric jargon too freely, there is no doubt 
as to where the general reader would willingly consign him. Therefore, 
I have attempted to use certain of the special terms, developed in recent 
years, where such words seemed to make for clarity and objectivity. 
Elsewhere I have eschewed such terms and striven for relative simplicity. 

There is one phrase that I would define briefly at this point. 
Throughout this book I have referred to the "common man." I mean 
the unintellectual man unaware of intellectual traditions and the history 
of thought. As Harvey Fergusson has written, "By the common man I 
mean the man who is so absorbed in the immediate and personal ends of 
living that he cannot view his destiny with any intellectual detachment. 
Such a man is capable of receiving doctrines upon authority and accepting 
them, but he is typically not capable of making hypotheses on his own 
account/ 7 


1 have not approached the subjects of growth of communication, the 
emergence and organization of propaganda, the control of newspapers, 
radio and motion pictures, the questions of restriction and censorship, 
the conscious manipulation of legends, and the like as "problems" or as 
"menaces." My objective, I hope maintained with some consistency, has 
been to direct the attention of the student of public opinion to the develop- 
ment of these phenomena as related to other aspects of the social process. 
To emphasize programs of "reform" in these fields is absurdly to sim- 
plify the processes. This is not to say that we have not had occasion to 
suggest procedures which might be helpful in controlling these processes, 
but simply to emphasize that such suggestions are not high-lighted and 
that "problems" are not the central thesis of this volume. I have not 
thought it necessary or desirable to indicate my own position on all the 
controversial topics with which we shall deal. I hope that that position 
is frequently implicit in the method of discussion of the particular item 
or that it may be assumed from the underlying viewpoints of this work. 

The reader may feel that in several chapters of this volume I have 
been unnecessarily discursive and that I have strayed from the central 
topics under discussion. In such instances, it was my purpose to place 
these topics in their settings. However, I may have been overzealous in 
describing the terrain at the side of the road. 

It is customary, not only in the teaching profession but in popular 
learning in America, to emphasize two procedures that I have attempted 
to avoid in this volume. One is to shock, the other to edify. Indeed, 
these methods are so common that any serious exponent of relatively 
impartial description of the social process finds himself baffled at times 
by the persistent demand of his auditors that they be shocked into atten- 
tion and then led into "the way." 

The contemporary writer of a volume that may find some use as a 
text finds himself embarrassed by the need to indicate his sources and 
give adequate appreciation to the originators, or at any rate users, of 
ideas that he has found helpful, while at the same time avoiding a too 
liberal sprinkling of references and footnotes lest he incur the charge of an 
absurdly vain pedantry. I have not coyly hidden all footnotes and 
references at the ends of chapters or at the end of the book, so that the 
eyes of students might be untroubled and their minds unperturbed by the 
obtrusion of the mechanics of scholarship. Sources and references are 
working tools. However, the reference lists for reading on various topics 
have been placed at the end of the volume. Any student of public 
opinion has a debt to acknowledge for the bibliographical labors of H. D. 
Lasswell, R. D. Casey and B. L. Smith in the preparation of their anno- 
tated bibliography, Propaganda and Promotional Activities; to H. L. 
Childs for his A Reference Guide to the Study of Public Opinion; and to 


Kimball Young and R. D. Lawrence for their Bibliography on Censorship 
and Propaganda. 

I hope that the experimental studies referred to in various sections 
of this book will be superseded within a very short time. Speculation 
on these topics is rife, and experimental data in parts of this field have 
been presented at an accelerated pace during the past ten years. 

I have no apologies to offer for the various stories and anecdotes that 
are strewn through the pages of this book. I am well aware of the limita- 
tions of such material. Stories sometimes distort meanings, divert the 
attention or unstabilize the judgment by laughter. But they add interest 
for the reader and sometimes really illustrate. They are painfully 
objectionable only to the experts in any field. 

It is customary for an author to express appreciation and gratitude 
to his wife for patience and forbearance with his aberrations during periods 
of intensive writing, or for sympathetic silence while he expounded certain 
points, or for critical comment, or for typing and clerical assistance. I 
am indebted to Helen H. Albig on all counts. I am under obligation to 
my colleague Professor E. T. Hiller for reading Chapters III, XI, XII, 
XIV and XV; to Professor D. R. Taft for reading Chapters III, XI, XII, 
XIV, XV and XX; and to Donald Coney, Librarian of the University of 
Texas, for reading Chapter III. Before my fireside, my colleagues 
E. A. Ahrens, R. E. Crist, H. F. Underbill and W. G. McAllister listened 
patiently to the reading of various sections of this volume during the 
past winter. 

February, 1939. 


























CENSORSHIP (Concluded) 249 










INDEX 465 



I. Circulation of Monthly and Quarterly Periodicals 37 

II. Number of Books and the Circulations of Periodicals and Newspapers, 
1904-1935 38 

III. Sources of Ideals Chosen by Urban Children from Three Cities .... 61 

IV. Distribution, by States, of Magazines, Newspapers, Radio Sets and Li- 
brary Circulations 162 

V. Reactions of 1725 Americans to Different Races by Percentages. . . . 195 

VI. Percentages of Those Ascribing Rank Positions to Reasons for Denying 

Citizenship to Mexicans 197 

VII. Categorical Description of Deletions Enforced by the Division of Motion 
Pictures of the New York Department of Education for the 15-month 
Period Beginning Jan. 1, 1932, and Ending Mar. 31, 1933 264 

VIII. Classification of National Organizations by Fields of Activity 280 

IX. Number of Broadcasting Stations in the United States, with Selected 

Types of Ownership and Operation, as of Each June 30, 1922-1930 . . 337 

X. Receiving Sets and Broadcasting Stations in Various Countries .... 338 

XI. Percentages of Time Devoted to Various Types of Programs Average of 

Nine American Broadcasting Stations, 1925-1935 347 

XII. Percentages of Time Devoted to Various Types of Programs London 

National of the BBC, 1925-1935 348 

XIII. Comparison of the Types of Motion Pictures Produced in 1920, 1925 and 
1930 371 

XIV. Markets for American Films 375 

XV. Total Number of Daily and Weekly Newspapers Published in the United 

States and Territories 390 

XVI. Number of Daily and Sunday English Language Newspapers and Total 

per Capita Circulation, United States, 1920-1935 391 

XVII. Time Spent in Newspaper Reading, By Age, Occupational and Educa- 
tional Classes 393 

XVIII. News Features Preferred as Shown by Four Studies Giving Order of 

Preference 393 

XIX. Cartoon Symbol TVDCS 422-423 



1. Population Growth and Communication in the United States 36 

2. "Streamlined Crosses" The Degradation of a Symbol 72 

3. Radio Stations of North and South America 158 

4. Radio Stations of Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia 159 

5. Distribution of Periodicals by States 1934 160 

6. Distribution of Class Periodicals by States 161 

7. Distribution of Families Owning Radio Sets in the United States 163 

8. The Political Results of Two Social Reforms 164 

9. Metropolitan Regions in the United States as Defined by Daily Newspaper 
Circulation: 1920 and 1929 167 

10. Attitude Scale Graph . . ! 203 

11. An Attitude Graph 224 

12. Collapse of German Morale ^S 

13. Cartoon A Great Educational Exhibition 


The discussion of human affairs, of personal relationships and of 
public issues and actions is persistent in all societies. Such discussion 
deals with all subjects- about which there is information in the group. It 
is conducted in all groups, among the simple and the sophisticated, the 
ignorant and the learned, the common man and the expert. Discussion 
utilizes all the means of communication speech, gesture, print and pic- 
ture. The process of discussion is intensified by the appearance of 
unusual information or occurrences, by controversy and by conflict. It 
is said that "a happy people have no history." A people or group in 
essential agreement have little to discuss except the sporadic individual 
variations from the norm. In the simple folk societies such is normally 
the case. In such a situation, knowledge is limited by the common 
traditions of the folk, the happenings of the immediate area and the 
occasional infiltration of alien lore. Today, in the great society, the 
common man has access to a multitudinous and detailed bulk of informa- 
tion. He has that portion of the accumulated learning of his culture to 
which he is exposed and the news of the day which is purveyed by news- 
paper and gossip, by pictures and motion pictures, by radio and all other 
means of communication. During the past generation, this news has 
expanded enormously, as to both the size of the geographic areas from 
which it is drawn and the scope and variety of its Subject matter. Discus- 
sion is greatly intensified. 

Upon this mass of information, the common man projects those scales 
of value with which he has been equipped. Standards limit his discussion 
to some extent. Certain topics are not discussible in some groups, 
although in our day everything is discussible somewhere. Where popu- 
larly accepted standards can be applied to the various items of informa- 
tion, there need be no discussion, as there is only one value or principle 
involved. There is no debate, no controversy. Hence, there is no 
opinion. \An opinion is some expression on a controversial point A 
Opinionjs some form of expression (verbal or otheFbehavior) ; and it cleakl 

'(not with materials considered as proved or 

generaybelieved to be true). 

In a period of rapidly changing standards, the range of opinion topics 
rapidly widens as values are less absolute. In the morning's newspaper, 
the reader comes upon two columns of news and a full page of pictures 



dealing with a New York City suicide, who, by vacillating for ten hours on 
an exposed building ledge, became national news even before he jumped. 
The reader may express opinions on the ethical justification of suicide, 
on the mental normality or abnormality of a suicide, on the viciousness 
of the gaping spectators, on the methods used to dissuade the jumper, 
and the like. The reader is in the process of developing opinions on this 
and many other topics in the morning's paper. On innumerable subjects, 
he is asked to form opinions. Competitive appeals by various interest 
groups assail, distract and confuse him. He is admonished, persuaded 
and cajoled. In the thinking of the common man there is much confusion. 
Villagers, with the codes that were the product of the village, are engulfed 
in cities, where complex indoctrination confuses those trained to the slow 
pace of decision in agrarian communities. In the primary group of the 
family and in intimate association, man functions on the basis of the rules, 
the traditions of the folk culture and also of procedures developed in his 
own experience of association. These relations are carried on in a vital 
consensus in which the loves, hates, fears and sympathies are a common, 
oft-repeated pattern. He is accustomed to the development of opinions 
regarding variant behavior and thought. 

In many of his secondary-group relationships in modern life, however, 
neither the patterns of the traditional culture nor his own experience offer 
sharp, clear-cut ways of life. Yet, under_democracy, he is called on to 
develop opinipus.and nmke^dbcisions. His fumblings in this field, his 
economic and political ineptitudes, his lack of grasp of essentials, his 
following of personal phantoms when he should be occupied with abstract 
realities make the common man a creature for the satirical thrusts of the 
more informed observer. Modern authoritarian rulers also express 
distrust of his capacity. As the number of secondary associations in 
which the average man is involved has increased, the breach has widened. 
And the mounting disdain of the intellectual is increasingly in evidence. 
The common man exhibits a preference for the opinion process and deci- 
sion relating to personal and private problems and issues. He would 
"win friends and influence people." He would survey the problems of 
personal relationships and values. This has always been the despair of 
the political reformer under democracy. As man in the mass has been 
thrust into situations in which opinions and decisions about economic 
issues were required of him, the despair of the theorists has frequently 
been abject. In the rising tide of popular decision many saw the "revolt 
of the masses." The people were projecting personal and individual 
values upon the larger scene. Former President A. Lawrence Lowell of 
Harvard University recently wrote, "Truly the future has less to fear from 
individual than from cooperative selfishness." Yet that the common 
man, with guidance and adequate information, can be trained to function 


satisfactorily in the realm of public affairs is the premise of democracy. 
He should be properly trained under democratic education and then 
turned loose upon the sacred icons. The remainder of this volume will 
be concerned with the discussion of the opinion process in large publics. 
We shall note at least some of the elements involved in that process, thus 
indicating some of the resources and liabilities of large publics for realistic 


There has been little agreement among sociological theorists, political 
scientists and social psychologists on the exact meaning of "public 
opinion.' 7 The term has been loosely used, sometimes in reference to 
widespread beliefs, "climate of opinion," consensus, the mores and the 
more settled convictions of a group; at times, to the process of developing 
opinions, as distinguished from the product; elsewhere, to statements 
which are the result of a reasoned, logical process as contrasted with those 
which have been arrived at by illogical means; and the like. We shall 
not attempt a historical r&um6 of the various meanings that commenta- 
tors of differing schools of thought and of different periods have ascribed 
to this term. 1 Let us consider merely a few of the more important recent 
distinctions and definitions. 

Our position is that opinion is any expression on a controversial topic. 
Public opinion results from the interaction of persons upon one another in 
any type of group. The opinion process occurs in groups varying in sizr 
from two to the largest number ever responding to common stimuli on a 
controversial issue. Publics are simply large groups. At any time there 
may be a prevailing or dominant view existingjn a group, but there are 
also any^number of other opinions maintained by the members of that 

1 In spite of the widespread use of the term "public opinion" during the past two 
centuries, there is surprisingly little analytic writing concerning its meaning, its 
constituent elements and the opinion process. For outstanding discussions in 
different periods, see: Mackinnon, W., On the Rise, Progress, and Present State of 
Public Opinion in Great Britain, Saunders and Otley, London, 1828; Bagehot, W., 
Physics and Politics, Chap. 5, 1872; Thompson, G. C., Public Opinion and Lord 
Beaconsfield, vol. I, pp. 29-40, 1886; Tarde, G., VOpinion et la Joule, 1901; Dicey, 
A. V., Law and Public Opinion in England, 1905; Bryce, J. f The American Common- 
wealth, vol. II, pp. 261-403, 1889; Cooley, C. H., Social Organization, Chaps. 12, 13, 
34, 1909, Social Process, Chap. 31, 1918; Lowell, A. L., Public Opinion and Popular 
Government, 1913, Public Opinion in War and Peace, 1923; King, C. L., Public Opinion 
as Viewed by Eminent Political Theorists, University of Pennsylvania Lectures, 1916; 
Lippmann, W., Public Opinion, 1922; Dewey, J., The Public and Its Problems, 1927; 
Carr, L. J., in Cooley, Angell and Carr, Introductory Sociology, Chaps. 22, 23, 24, 
1933; Harris Foundation Lectures, Public Opinion and World Politics, University of 
Chicago Press, 1933; Wilson, F. G., The Elements of Modern Politics, Chaps. 10, 11, 
1936; Bauer, W., "Public Opinion," Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, 12: 669-674. 


group. There may or may not be a majority expressing a common opin- 
ion. .The opinion process is the interaction occurring within a group on a 
controversial issue. The group opinion is the product of that interaction, 
the resultant expression including all the positions maintained by members 
of the group. This group opinion is not static but is in flux as new ele- 
ments are introduced into the discussion. The opinion process in the 
group may be a reasoned, logical analysis and procedure. In large groups 
it is more often involved in sentiment, emotion, casual impressions and 
various illogical elements. Let us amplify these statements. 

Opinion is expressed through some of the means of communication. 
On the basis of the expressed opinion one may and does assume attitudes, 
mind-sets, beliefs and other subjective states, but the opinion is expression 
on a controversial issue. "There can be no such thing as opinion without 
stating the content of the opinion in language form. The response of 
individuals to this common stimulating situation may be either verbal or 
nonverbal. It may, for example, be a grimace, gesture or emotional 
expression. This reaction, however, must be capable of being readily 
translated into words, such, for example, as expressions of agreement or 
approval." 1 The trucking code of a few years ago placed a license fee on 
all vehicles engaged in paid transportation. A Maine farmer, who also 
pushed a wheelbarrow from the depot to the post office in his little town, 
objected to this tax. What did he do? "He didn't evade. He didn't 
chisel. He didn't grouse much. He went to the authorities, paid his $3 
in three well-worn greenbacks, and took out a trucking license for his 
wheelbarrow. He may not have known what 'reductio ad absurdum' 
meant but he knew how to do it. Having fastened his license to his 
wheelbarrow, and paraded it twice daily before the village, he hit upon a 
better scheme. His little daughter has a trained rooster. Hitched to a 
cart, the rooster draws two or three letters daily to a neighbor. My friend 
tried to take out a rooster license under the Trucking Code." 2 Opinion 
may achieve expression in any understandable and translatable act. 
Opinion expression is behavior. But this does not mean that opinions 
can be adequately described in behavioristic terms. By no means. Any 
fruitful examination of expression of opinion must relate the opinions to 
the subjective states out of which the opinions have emerged. "The 
extreme behaviorist assumes that there is only one way in which physical 
processes can be studied, namely through outward action. Now an 
object that is immediately presented may produce outward activity 
without either understanding or belief." 1 If ten people say that they do 
not like Italians, that is an expression of opinion. We may record that 

1 Allport, F. H. f "Toward a Science of Public Opinion/' Pub. Opin. Quar., 1: 1: 14. 

* Canham, . D., in the Chris. Sci. A/an., July 11, 1934. 

Eaton, R. M., Symbolism and Truth, p. 25, 1925. 



expression on any type of detailed test that has been created. But the 
reasons for that dislike may be so varied and diverse that in a changing 
situation one of those individuals may change his opinion statement within 
an hour, whereas another holds to his position for a lifetime. The record 
of opinion statements is a record of behavior, but that is simply a starting 
point for the description of the opinion process. To proclaim, as does the 
behaviorist, that he is concerned only with overt verbal behavior in this 
field is to depart very far from science, which is the description of reality. 

An opinion is an expression about a controversial point. "An opinion 
may be defined as the acceptance of one among two or more inconsistent 
views which are capable of being accepted by a rational mind as true." 1 
It may thus be distinguished from a demonstration or proof. There are 
certain relations, though fewer than commonly supposed, that are gen- 
erally accepted as proved. A child may give a unique answer to the prob- 
lem of three times three. But his answer is in error; it is not an opinion. 
It is variation from established truth. Now, of course, almost all our 
knowledge is relative, but that residue which is generally accepted at any 
given time is not the subject of opinion. In addition to the generally 
accepted demonstrations and proofs, there are those propositions which, 
within the limits of any group, are accepted as unquestionable. These, 
too, are not the subject of opinion within that group. Opinions emerge at 
controversial points, when the old, accepted patterns break down, when 
doubt has risen, when the tenets of any group are questioned. When 
there is an awareness of discrepancy, the situation is defined, solutions are 
presented and opinions are formed. 

Opinion may be defined as contrasted to the noncontroversial, but 
what is a public opinion? This is a controversial concept. There are 
many opinions on public opinion. And real issues are involved. What 
constitutes a public? In sociological speculation, " public" is made 
synonymous with "group." In all groups there are some controversial 
issues. Therefore, the opinion process is operative to a greater or less 
extent in all groups, from a primary group engaged in gossip and discus- 
sion to an international organization. The limits of a group are defined 
in terms of those who participate therein. "In defining the public as 
those persons who have the right of participation, we have reached, 
perhaps, a reasonable interpretation. Such a view leaves the problems 
of the formation and expression of opinion in psychological terms to the 
further discussion of opinion itself." 2 But what is the public opinion? 
There is no agreement among the theorists on the nature of the public 
opinion. The Round Table on the Measurement of Opinion of the 
American Political Science Association, after agreeing that opinion need 

1 Lowell, A. L., Public Opinion in War and Peace, p. 12, 1923. 
' Wilson, op. cii., p. 247. 


not be the result of rational process, that it need not include an awareness 
of choice and that it must be sufficiently clear or definite to create a dis- 
position to act upon it under favorable circumstances (all of which 
are statements on the nature of opinion), state as further and undecided 
problems, "(1) whether there is or must of necessity be a single public 
opinion or whether there may be a number of public opinions on a given 
question; (2) whether opinion is public because of the subject matter 
to which it relates or of the kind of persons who hold it; (3) what part of 
the public must concur to make it public opinion; and (4) must there be 
acquiescence by those who do not agree?" 1 From the viewpoint of public 
as group, a public opinion is the expression of all those members of a group 
who are giving attention in any way to a given issue. The public opinion 
includes the expression of the majority (if there be a majority) and the 
minority or all the minorities at any given time. If the differences are 
so great and persistent that the minorities will not acquiesce to 
function with the majority, then there is no public there are several 
publics. Thus Dr. Lowell quite properly points out that the "opinion 
of a majority is not always public." 2 Publics exist only when the 
constituent members will function together. In order to have public 
opinion, "A majority is not enough, and unanimity is not required, but 
the opinion must be such that while the minority may not share it, they 
feel bound, by conviction not by fear, to accept it; and if democracy is 
complete the submission of the minority must be given ungrudgingly." 3 
There is another problem as to the nature of the public opinion, a 
haunting and confusing subject for the social theorist. F. H. Allport has 
referred to it as the personification of public opinion, the personification of 
the public and the "group fallacy" of the public. "Public opinion, 
according to this fiction, is thought of as some kind of being which dwells 
in or above the group, and then expresses its view, upon various issues as 
they arise. The ' voice of public opinion/ or the l public conscience/ are 
metaphors of this sort. ... A related fiction is one in which the notion 
of a collective, super-organic being is applied not to the opinion process 
itself, but to the public which holds it. ... Somewhat less mystical, 
but equally uncritical, is the usage of those who renounce the idea 
of a collective entity or group mind, holding that when they say 'the 
public 7 they mean individuals; but who, nevertheless, go on employing 
such phrases as 'the public wants so and so' or 'the country voted dry.' " 4 

1 Am. Pol. ci. Rev., 19: 126. 

2 Lowell, A, L., Public Opinion and Popular Government, pp. 4-10, 1913. 
* Ibid., p. 15. 

4 Allport, op. ciL, pp. 7 and 8. For a critical discussion of this problem, see All- 
port's article and also Lundberg, G. A., "Public Opinion from a Behavioriatic View- 
point/' Am. Jour, Sociol., 36: 387-405. 


We have here the old problem of the "individual" and "society," which 
has been recast in myriad forms. The controversy has often become 
heated conflict, and the intensity of academic jousting has sometimes 
appeared to be maintained by what seemed suspiciously like a willful 
misinterpretation of terms and concepts. One form in which the dichot- 
omy has been stressed is that of individual and group opinion. Public 
opinion, it is maintained, is something more than individual opinions. It 
is true that there is continuity of habitual ideas, of beliefs and standards. 
These are brought to bear on each issue as it arises. But the process 
occurs in individuals. Is not public opinion simply the individual 
opinions which exist and are expressed after some form of interaction on 
the issue before that particular public or group? Otherwise, we go into 
some form of mysticism about group mind, group soul, the collective 
unconscious of the psychoanalysts, and the like. In the public there 
is a great body of traditional beliefs, feelings and ideas. There are also 
habitual customs, practices and various types of behavior. These have 
continuity as they are incorporated into the responses of successive gen- 
erations of individuals. They are superindividual only in the sense that 
the particular individual did not create them. 

Great confusion in terms has occurred because "public opinion" has 
been used by one group of writers as a label for the content of group opin- 
ion (that is, the statements of all the members of the group at any given 
time), whereas another group of writers refers to public opinion as the proc- 
ess of opinion formation. 1 C. H. Cooley wrote, "Public opinion, if we 
wish to see it as it is, should be regarded as an organic process, and 
not merely as a state of agreement about some question of the day." 2 
Certainly statements of opinion can be understood only in relation to the 
interaction that preceded the statement, but, as a matter of labels, we 
shall designate the formation*of opinions as "opinion process." But on 
active issues, individual opinions may change rapidly. There is con- 
stant flux. A record of opinion at a given time may be true only momen- 
tarily. To make a record by means of opinion tests simply freezes the 
process. It is as if I could suddenly freeze the water and the fish in a 
bowl before me. It might be noted that a number of fish had their 
mouths open in an identical manner. I count and classify mouth posi- 
tions. All sense measurements iitform me that the fishes' mouths are 
identical. Yet, on return to fluidity, one fish takes a gulp of water, one a 
gulp of food and two snap at each other's tails. The opinion process is thei 
subject of the bulk of this volume, but most specifically of Chap. XIII on 
Opinion Change. 

1 Carr, L. J., has stated this issue clearly in " Public Opinion as a Dynamic Con- 
cept," Sociri. Soc. Re*., 13; 18-30. 

Cooley, C. H., Social Process, p. 378, 1918. 



There are relatively stable beliefs which, at any given time, are not 
involved in the opinion process. A state of agreement following an 
opinion controversy is a consensus. It is a relatively quiescent period in 
the flux of social change. Every existing belief has been questioned at 
some time in the history of a culture. " Every consensus is a won agree- 
ment; to realize it as such requires a background of awareness of disagree* 
ments from which the harmony has emerged." 1 And, of course, large 
publics are not commonly aware of the history of their cherished beliefs 
and so regard them as universally true and self-evident. 

A consensus may be achieved within groups widely differing as to 
size, maturity and the degrees of complexity of their psychological 
processes. Experts achieve consensus on theories. The history of ideas 
illustrates the starts and stops of the professional thinker. Publics reach 
consensus on ethical, political and economic issues. Even large publics 
may be in substantial agreement. There is then consensus of the type 
that Montesquieu designated as the esprit g6nral, that Rousseau spoke 
of as the volontt g6n6rak and that the English theorists called " public will." 
The ethical consensus which W. G. Sumner labeled the "mores" are states 
of agreement and are outside the realm of opinion. Among the bulk of the 
inhabitants of Mississippi, a public opinion on intermarriage between 
whites and blacks cannot be said to exist. The subject is not discussible; 
it is part of the mores. The nineteenth-century social theorists quite 
generally included both the materials on which consensus existed and also 
the controversial items as part of the general content of public opinion. 
A. V. Dicey writes of public opinion as a body of convictions and beliefs 
and prejudices, as well as of what he calls crosscurrents due to controversy. 
But we may logically distinguish between consensus and opinion. Plato 
confined opinion to that which is subject to change. Opinions are devel- 
oped about admittedly controversial topics, whereas, in belief or consensus, 
"an idea fills the mind to the exclusion of possible alternatives." 

In modern life, awareness of other and conflicting beliefs has made for 
relativism. Certainty has been extensively undermined. The enlarge- 
ment of communication first brought the variant beliefs, codes and stand- 
ards to the attention of the professional thinker and then, to some extent, 
popularized such knowledge. The areas of certainty were narrowed. 
"In order to show the vanity of all efforts to found rationally an absolute 
and universal morality, the varieties and contradictions of moral rules 
actually recognized at various times and in various societies had to be 
systematically described."* At the close of the nineteenth century such 

1 Kallen, H. M., "Consensus," Ency. Soc. Set., 4: 225. 
Znaniecki, P., The Method of Sociology, p. 113, 1931 


comparative studies were made in large numbers. The results were 
partly popularized. Thus, the field of opinion widens, and the sphere of 
consensus diminishes. 


Will the resultant expressions of opinion, which appear after the 
opinion process in any group, be the average of individual opinions at the 
time when the process started? Obviously not, for the opinion process 
has introduced new elements; the convincing opinions of the better 
informed, the prejudices and emotional responses aroused during the 
interaction, the injection of personal prestige into the process, and the like. 
Will the result be above or below the average, as measured by realistic 
judgment and conclusions? In the absence of relatively exact, analytic 
interpretations of the opinion process in large publics, the answer will 
depend on the faith of the commentator in the capacity of the common 
man. A century ago, W. A. Mackinnon declared, " Public opinion may be 
said to be that sentiment on any given subject which is entertained by the 
best informed, most intelligent, and most moral persons in the community, 
which is gradually spread and adopted by nearly all persons of any 
education or proper feeling in a civilized state." 1 C. H. Cooley states, 
"There is a widespread, but as I believe a fallacious, idea that the public 
thought or action must in some way express the working of an average or 
commonplace mind, must be some kind of a mean between the higher and 
lower intelligences making up the group. ... A little common-sense and 
observation will show that the expression of a group is nearly always 
superior, for the purpose in hand, to the average capacity of its members." 2 
But another group of writers, in depreciation of the judgment and capacity 
of the common man, maintains that the opinions of the wiser members of a 
society are usually ignored and that the level of majority opinion and 
decision is very low indeed. 


Confidence in the power of reason has waxed and waned throughout 
the history of thought. Rationalism "aims to regulate individual and 
social life in accordance with principles of reason and to eliminate as 
far as possible or to relegate to the background everything irrational." 8 
P. A. Sorokin isolates the upward movements of rationalism as from 
540 to 450 B.C.; the second half of the fifth and first half of the fourth 
century B.C. (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle); about 200 B.C.; about 80 B.C.; 
the twelfth, thirteenth and first half of the fourteenth centuries; the first 

1 Mackinnon, op. cit. t p. 15. 

1 Cooley, C. H., Social Organization, pp. 123, 124, 1909. 

* Groethuysen, B., " Rationalism," Ency. Soc. Set., 13: 113, 


half of the fifteenth century; the sixteenth and first half of the seventeenth 
centuries; and the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth 
centuries. l Faith in the capacity of the common man to form his opinions 
on the basis of rational principles has fluctuated in like manner. During 
the last period of rationalism the great societies were emerging. Social 
and psychological thinking of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth 
centuries was dominated by the concept of reason and by the assumption 
that man is a rational animal. In politics there was the emergence of 
democracy and faith in the rational man. Economic assumptions posited 
rational choices, and philosophy assumed the calm deliberation of goods 
and ills. Rational capacity was believed to be inherent in the individual, 
to be cultivated by education and enlightenment. The optimism of the 
nineteenth century was based upon this faith. Knowledge could solve 
everything, and with industry it was yours. 

Then another "flight from reason " began. Darwinian evolution 
linked the species, and there was no reason to believe that instinctive 
drives might not dominate reason in man. Psychology was providing a 
description of man's thinking that made the doctrines of "rational man" 
appear to be speculative wishful thinking. It was increasingly assumed 
that the older breed of political and economic theorists had erred in regard- 
ing man as a purely rational being. In the twentieth century the flight 
from reason gathered momentum. In literature, an increasing number of 
influential writers rejected the primacy of the intellect and denied, as 
Aldous Huxley said, "that there is an intrinsic superiority in mental, con- 
scious, voluntary life over physical, intuitive, instinctual life." The cult 
of D. H. Lawrence was built upon the assumptions about deep, instinc- 
tive drives, the voice of the blood, the final reality of deep-seated, primal, 
emotional urges. Considerations of orderly and logical analysis were 
supplanted by emphasis upon nerves, instinct, emotion, intuitive sensual 
memories, and the like. Psychology disparaged the amount and thor^ 
oughness of rational and logical thinking. Emotional drives were empha- 
sized, the instinct theories proliferated, behaviorism and conditioning 
were extensively described, emotional linkages with verbal and personal 
symbols were illustrated, the tricks of the mind in rationalizing and 
stereotyping were gleefully exhibited, the unconscious was uncovered 
and other psychological partial descriptions were paraded. 2 The political 
theorist applied a portion of these doctrines to political functioning and 
public opinion. The first incisive analysis was Graham Wallas's Human 
Nature in Politics (1908). His thesis was that "political thinking in the 
past has assumed a degree of intellectuality in mankind that mankind 

1 Sorokin, P. A., Social and Cultural Dynamics, vol. II, Chap. 1, 1937. 
*The psychological contributions to the understanding of the opinion process 
are reviewed in Chaps. IV and V, 


never really possessed. The human nature with which he is concerned is 
the pre-rational and non-rational behavior which complicates political 
processes everywhere." 1 Harold Laski declared that formal doctrine and 
popular opinion were rationalizations of deeper drives in men. These 
rationalizations were the orientations of each era to the new set of living 
conditions. There were many emulators of such writings. 

Political practitioners provided anti-rationalistic and anti-inteliectual- 
istic ideologies in support of the new authoritarian states organized about 
Fascist, Nazi and Communist doctrines. There was a remarkable growth 
of bigotry and intolerance, of avowed faith in violence and of the con- 
sciously organized management of opinion through propagandas that 
promulgated conclusions and depreciated appeals to reason. There was 
a widespread decline in the prestige of reason. 

During the past fifty years there has been a vast increase in organized 
special pleading. Reform groups were perfecting their techniques of 
popular appeal. Conflicting doctrines were seeking a hearing. Com- 
mercial advertising was creating markets for the distribution of the grow- 
ing number of consumers' goods. Newspapers and other media of 
communication fought for circulations. All of these showed by their 
practices that their directors had decreasing faith in the effectiveness of 
rational appeals. In commercial advertising, there is a score of attempts 
to influence buying by emotional appeals to one analysis of the quality of 
the product. Commenting on these trends, a philosopher states, "If, 
in the name of reason, you summon a man to alter his fundamental 
purposes to pursue, say, the general happiness rather than his own 
power you will fail, and you will deserve to fail, since reason alone 
cannot determine the ends of life." 2 We shall examine the different 
facets of this problem in the various chapters of this book. Those who 
maintain that the only proper way to influence a human being is to 
encourage him to think for himself and who have faith in his capacity to 
do so effectively are in combat with the pragmatic practitioners of power 
by any means. 


Popular opinions do not exist as separate, disjointed, unrelated items. 
Although the opinions of the common man are by no means totally con- 
sistent, there are underlying systems of thought. During the past 
century, general popular thought systems have been increasingly referred 
to as "ideologies." Confusion and glaring inconsistencies have become 
evident in popular thought and action as the common man has had access 
to conflicting ideologies in religion, politics and economics. 

1 Wallas, G., Human Nature in Politics, p. 21, 1008. 

* Ruasell, B., " Power over Opinion," Sat. Rev. Lit., Aug. 13, 1938, p. 13. 


A consideration of the life of an individual! a people or an age must 
begin* with an inventory of its systems of thought. There are always 
complexes of popular convictions and beliefs that are fundamental and 
decisive for the life of a time. Underlying such popular thought are the 
systems provided by the professional philosopher, theologian, political 
theorist and economist. 1 When both the professional thinker and the 
common man considered such beliefs as emanations from God, from 
nature or from underlying, immutable truth, they believed that the state- 
ments of their opponents or enemies were lies, errors, misinterpretations 
and misconceptions resulting from the activities of the devil or from the 
faulty perceptual or conceptual apparatus of misguided souls. There 
were absolutes, and the righteous and favored people received them. All 
others were in error and in some way personally responsible for their 
derelictions from the truth or for their failures to achieve it. On the other 
hand, ideology implies a system of ideas related to the life situations of its 
creators. As such it is changing, relative and nonabsolute. "The ideas 
expressed by the subject are thus regarded as functions of his existence. 
This means that opinions, statements, propositions and systems of ideas 
are not taken at their face value, but are interpreted in the light of the life 
situation of the one who expresses them. It signifies further that the 
specific character and life situation of the subject influence his opinions, 
perceptions, and interpretations." 2 In the ideology, certain distorted 
and partially untrue conceptions of persons are regarded as legends, certain 
theories as myths, and postulates and assumptions as " guiding fictions." 

Such a relative conception of human thought could not develop until 
very recently in the history of thought. The sociology of thought remains 
a startling view to many social theorists, and the concept has scarcely 
penetrated to the common man, except in the form of Marxian dialectics 
that brand opposing doctrines as class ideologies. Nor is it a comfortable 
or comforting doctrine to masses of mankind who still prefer to quest for 
the absolutes with self-styled infallible guides. In an Oxford Group 
Movement, they quest for absolute honesty, absolute purity, absolute 
unselfishness and absolute love. Hitler, Mussolini and other dictators 
who have tinkered together certain dogmatic absolutes for the masses 
have proved once more that there is a persistent popular cry of, "What 
shall I believe to be saved?" Nor is the quest only among the simple- 
minded. An Oxford scholar recently declared to Wickham Steed, "I 
believe in the State Absolute, and demand Absolute values."* Hegel has 

1 Prof. Sorokin, op. cit. f vol. II f has provided a study, largely quantitative, of the 
fluctuations and trends in such systems. 

9 Mannheim, K., Ideology and Utopia (English trans.), p. 50, 1936. Quoted by 
permission of Harcourt, Brace & Company 

Chrit. Set. Man., Mar. 24, 1934. 


cast a long shadow over large sectors of modern thought. As A. N. 
Whitehead has written, "Man has always sought the perfect, harmonious 
and orderly universe." 1 And John Dewey notes, "There is something 
deep within human nature itself which pulls toward settled relationships. 
Inertia and the tendency toward stability belong to emotions and desires 
as well as to masses and molecules." 2 But, in spite of the desire for 
absolutes and the "quest for certainty," the relative nature of thought 
systems and the relationships between thought and group interests 
become increasingly apparent in our diversified world. 

The concept of ideology arose in western Europe when various popular 
thought systems were obviously in conflict as religious, political and 
finally economic controversies engaged the attention of the common man. 
Suspicion of the quality of the adversary's thinking found justification in 
branding that thinking as "ideological," that is, as partial, incomplete 
and limited by his time and place, his station and class. The seventeenth 
century had a phrase, "climate of opinion." It was beginning to be 
recognized that ideas had a setting, and that "whether arguments com- 
mand assent or not depends less upon the logic that conveys them than 
upon the climate of opinion in which they are sustained." 8 Bacon wrote 
of the "idola," the idols, phantoms, preconceptions, the illusions of the 
populace. These erroneous notions were derived sometimes from 
"human nature," sometimes from society or tradition. 4 Glimmerings of 
the concept of ideology were appearing in various writings. Montesquieu, 
in the narrow world of the eighteenth century and with scanty knowledge 
of civilizations other than the European and the Classical, tried to show 
the trends of civilization and to make people conscious of the fact that 
men's mentalities were conditioned by the systems in which they lived. 
Social organization was becoming more intricate; classes and interest 
groups were arising. Not only was the "thought of the palace one thing 
and that of the public square another," 6 as Machiavelli had noted, but 
there were also various groups with diverse ways of thinking. "The 
modern conception of ideology was born when Napoleon, finding that this 
group of philosophers was opposing his imperial ambitions, contemptu- 
ously labelled them 'ideologists.' Thereby the word took on a derogatory 
meaning which, like the word 'doctrinaire, 1 it has retained to the present 
day. . . . What is depreciated is the validity 'of the adversary's thought 
because it is regarded as unrealistic." 6 The derogatory connotations of 

i Whitehead, A. N., Science and the Modern World, p. 230, 1925. 

Dewey, J., The Public and It* Problems, p. 213, 1927. 

' Becker, C. L., The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-century Philosophers, p. 5, 1932. 

4 Mannheim, op. cit. 9 p. 55. 

*7Wd.,p. 56. 

1 /bid., p. 64. Quoted by permission of Harcourt, Brace & Company. 


ideology were furthered in the Marxian writings. Marx discussed reli- 
gion, law and systems of thought as ideologies beneficial to the capitalists. 
Marxian thought placed emphasis upon class position and class interests 
in thought. 

But ideology was not only an intellectual weapon but also a valuable 
conceptual tool. Thought is conditioned by time and place and by group 
interests. Certainly this is not equally true of all kinds of thought. 
Scientific thought, theological thought and philosophy have their own 
histories and deep roots. But popular thought on political and economic 
issues is especially ideological. And class interests are apparent. If in 
the United States a scientific report of governmental experts on the 
breeding conditions of frogs is ridiculed by a portion of the press as the 
study of the "love life of the frog," and the activities of unemployed white- 
collar workmen engaged under government auspices in gathering statis- 
tical information on a variety of social relations is " boondoggling/' 
whereas a three-year investigation of shaving sponsored by soap manu- 
facturers at Mellon Institute resulting in the conclusion that " preparation 
of the face is important " is reported as a scientific achievement, it is 
evident that an ideology is involved. When the psychologist S. D. Por- 
teus, in giving tests to Australian primitives, refused to help them answer 
the questions and solve the problems of the tests, they were aggrieved 
and resentful. Accustomed to a communal and cooperative life (and 
he had been initiated as a member of the tribe), they resented his emphasis 
on individual achievement. The climate of opinion differed. Values in 
a culture provide a frame of reference for thinking. In Spain, the Jesuits 
have left marks on the national character. Indirectness and cleverness 
are esteemed in conversation; frankness is considered unpardonable 
naivet6. It is difficult for an American or European, with his conceptions 
of sovereignty and of executive power, to grasp the psychological attitude 
of the Japanese people toward their mikado. There is no parallel, no 
Western analogy. The ideologies differ. The concept of ideology is a 
useful way of thinking about popular complexes and systems of ideas. 
As relativism in the description of thinking, it illumines many other- 
wise unintelligible differences between classes, interest groups and entire 

A popular ideology must be simple and must be adapted to simple 
mentalities. As a public creed it must be implemented with symbols of a 
readily comprehensible type. "Thus it is that most of man's behavior is 
symbolic of the various characters which he assumes. This is true not 
only of his behavior as a warrior or a priest, but extends even to such 
practical concerns as eating and drinking, with their little rituals of highly 
decorated tables and service. The words, ceremonies, theories, and 
principles and other symbols which man uses make him believe in the 


reality of his dreams and thus give purpose to his life." 1 So the ideology 
is couched in symbols to which the believer may respond. Mussolini 
writes, "There must be music and banners to kindle enthusiasm. The 
mob is loose and dispersed as a shoal of fish until they're well disciplined 
and led. They don't need to know; but the faith that moves mountains 
must flash from the orator's soul into their own, like the radio that can 
excite the world with a mighty thought. Really the tendency of our 
modern folks to believe is ... quite past belief." 2 The ideology is 
expressed in personal symbols, emblems and language forms. 3 The uses 
of slogans, catchwords, cries and other popular verbal symbols are 
meaningful in their particular contexts. The associated emotional 
responses are usually ill-understood by those of another time who may 
attempt to understand the potency of these phrases. Indeed, it is with 
great difficulty that we achieve any true appreciation of past symbols or of 
those of an opposing ideology. In a religious, fear-ridden public of the 
seventeenth century, the cry of popery aroused emotional responses which 
today can be understood only by the meticulous historian. When words 
are redefined and used as symbols of an ideology, confusion is compounded. 
The Marxian made " bourgeois" synonymous with " capitalist." But 
this term, originally meaning "city dweller," had come to mean "middle- 
class citizen," as opposed to nonurban elements, the aristocracy, and the 
peasants, before Marxian jargon made an epithet of it. The puerilities, 
the vacuousness, the ambiguities and the absurd simplifications of popular 
ideological symbols alienate the intellectual analyst. In satiric mood, 
H. D. Lasswell outlines the specifications for an American Das Kapital 

(1) The title must be a slogan. The title Capital has become a diagnosis 
and by implication a prescription; for if capital is to blame for our plight, capital 
must be crushed. An example of what to avoid is V. Pareto's Treatise on Soci- 
ology, regardless of the brilliance of analysis. (2) The book must be thick. 
Thickness conveys authoritativeness and discourages reading by the masses who 
must revere the book as a symbol. (3) The book must be systematic and 
quantitative ("scientific"). The analytic pattern of thinking has now become 
so current in society that the volume must appear to possess imposing categories 
and sub-categories. It must be studded with charts, graphs, tables, footnotes, 
and other impressive impedimenta of exactitude. (4) The vocabulary must be 
more than analytic it must be ethical, legalistic (constitutional), technological, 
sporting, individualistic, nationalistic. (5) The selected "facts" must allude 
mainly to American experience. (6) The key words and the style must be 
invidious. Terms like "unearned increment," "surplus value," "leisure class" 
can be handled with appropriate innuendo. (7) The volume as a whole should 

1 Arnold, T. W., The Symbols of Government, Preface, 1935. Quoted by permission 
of Yale University Press. 

2 Mussolini, B., Cur. Hist., 45: 4: 81. 

5 Personal symbols are discussed in Chap. VI, language symbols in Chap. TV. 


be ambiguous, obscure, and somewhat contradictory. This facilitates the 
redefinition of the book to serve the purposes of the self-selected revolutionary 
elite. (8) The style must be dull, in order to reduce the danger that the work 
will be extensively read or that the illusion of comprehension should sprout too 
widely and too readily without aid of centralized interpreters. (9) The pre- 
scription should be activistic; join a specific organization, obey the revolutionary 
elite, prepare for revolutionary acts! 1 

A political, religious or economic ideology is first inculcated by per- 
suasion. If its principal tenets fulfill needs that are widespread, the 
ideology wins adherents. The political theories accepted at any time and 
place are those which promise fulfillment of the hopes and utilitarian 
interests of some class or group. After a system becomes dominant, as did 
the Roman Catholic church or the contemporary Fascist, Nazi and Com- 
munist doctrines, it is imposed by force. The viewpoints are crystallized 
into principles. Then violence, the venting of fierce partisan hatreds 
and the " liquidation" of those who espouse other principles ensue. 
Physical coercion may be used sincerely, ruthlessly, cruelly and without 
compunction. Afterward, a genuine belief may be engendered in the 
majority, making force unnecessary. 

The relative nature of ideologies does not mean that some systems of 
thought are not superior to others as adaptations to reality or that we can 
comfortably find rest in irrationality and skepticism as to all popular 
thought. The thinking of large publics is conditioned by their time and 
culture, but the awareness that such is the case may provide a bulwark 
against the more extreme illusions. Adversaries may be understood. 
Fervid adherence to a particular ideology cuts communication and isolates 
the convert. Awareness of ideologies may restore communication. We 
must reiterate, moreover, that not all thinking can be considered ideolog- 
ical. In the final chapter of this volume we shall return to this problem. 

l Lasswell, H. D., World Politics and Personal Insecurity, p. 219, 1935. Quoted 
by permission of the McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. 


As a member of large publics, modern man has a mass of information 
about many facts, systems of ideas, fragments of information, ideologies 
and news. Most of this information is shallow, unrelated to any deep 
roots in integrated thought systems. It is predigested, simplified and 
served to him in catchwords and other simple symbols. A great deal of it 
is inaccurate. To a considerable extent it is a mental conglomerate, 
chaotic and transient. Much of his information is presented to him for a 
purpose, the furtherance of the interests of some organized group. There 
is great emphasis on publicity, some of it presumably in the public interest, 
such as publicity about government, income-tax returns, stock ownership, 
securities, and the like (although the campaigns for such publicity are by 
no means disinterested from the viewpoint of their proponents). Other 
types of publicity, advertising and propaganda are obviously in the inter- 
est of the sources from which they emerge. But in all cases there is a 
vast to-do about informing the general public. Today the struggle for 
power is conducted by interest groups implemented with the newer 
means of communication, the popular press, motion pictures and radio. 
Interest groups are more varied, better organized and very effective in 
winning large publics. They struggle with one another in a competitive 
attempt to inject their viewpoints in the various media of communication. 
It has been estimated that over one-half of the stories in an issue of a 
conservative newspaper emanated from a publicity agent or publicity 
organization. 1 Dictators meticulously organize propaganda bureaus, 
economic groups develop publicity organizations and individuals retain 
publicity agents to present their viewpoints and personality to large 
publics. How has this scramble for publicity come about? Why does it 
seem imperative to so many groups that they should have a public hear- 
ing? What changes in social organization have accompanied the rise of 
contemporary public opinion? 

If we identify "public" with "group," it is evident that there are innu- 
merable publics differing as to size, organization, methods of communica- 
tion and systems of control and guidance existing therein. If we reserve 
the term "public" for the numerically larger groups, we still have an 
amazingly large number of publics organized about some common interest. 

., "Publicity," Ency. Soc. <*., 12: 701, 



Elsewhere, we shall attempt to classify them. 1 The individual in modern 
society is a member of some, usually of numerous, large groups. He will 
have membership in some groups whose interests are partially antipathetic 
to those of other groups of which he is also a member. His expressions of 
opinion on the same issue may differ in various groups. Such inconsistent 
memberships have been described by F. H. Allport as due to the "partial 
inclusion" of the individual in his groups. 2 How has the individual 
become so atomized in his social relationships? 

The term "public opinion " was coined in the late eighteenth century. 
It appeared at that time because large publics were coming into existence 
owing to the rapidly increasing populations; their geographic concentra- 
tion in cities where large mobs, crowds and assemblages made possible the 
speeding-up of the opinion process; the development of the means of 
communication, especially of printing, by which tracts, pamphlets and 
posters could be duplicated in larger numbers; the increase in literacy. 
At the same time the importance of the individual citizen's opinions and 
decisions was emphasized, owing to the rise of rationalism and of political 
democracy. The enlightenment of public opinion became a creed, a 
faith and an objective. Public opinion was not a new phenomenon, but 
the theorists' preoccupation with the opinion processes of the masses 
emerged during the eighteenth century when there was the maximum 
confidence in the judgment of the common man. 

In earlier times and in primitive and folk societies, innovations are 
usually dealt with by the application of customary rules, rather than by 
discussion and the formation of opinions. The mores, the beliefs, the 
consensus and the customary procedures are invoked. There is little of 
the dynamic opinion process. "There exist many communities in which 
public opinion if by that term be meant speculative views held by the 
mass of the people as to the alteration or improvement of their institu- 
tions can hardly be said to have any existence. The members of such 
societies are influenced by habits rather than thoughts." 3 Of course, 
there are great variations among types of primitive societies and of folk 
communities. Contemporary scholars must be much more cautious about 
making facile generalizations about "primitive peoples" than were those 
of a generation ago. Since 1900 the ethnologists have described primitive 
peoples of great variety in social organization. M. Mead has illustrated 
three types of primitive communities on the basis of the individual's 
opportunities for expressing opinion. 4 In the first, illustrated by the 

1 There are no satisfactory classifications of large publics. Such data as exist are 
presented in Chap. XVI. 

* This is a central thesis in Allport, F. H., Institutional Behavior, 1933. 
1 Dicey, A. V., Law and Public Opinion in England, p. 3, 1905. 

4 Mead, M., "Public Opinion Mechanisms among Primitive Peoples/' Pub. 
Qpin. Quar., 1:3: 5-16. 


Arapesh, the Andamanese, the Ojibway and the Eskimo, there is the 
maximum opportunity for the formation of individual opinion upon the 
issues of daily life. Personal opinion achieves expression in these 
groups, but Dr. Mead errs in identifying this type of personal opinion 
with the " public opinion " of the great societies. In these primitive 
groups there is no opinion process, no interaction with the resultant group 
opinion, comparable to the process in modern publics. In the second 
type, illustrated by the latmul people of New Guinea, there are clan, 
age and moiety groups within the tribe. Group attitudes are developed 
within these subdivisions, and these attitudes are applied to conflict 
situations. The attitudes which the individual acquires in one group may 
differ from those which are maintained by another group, and confusion 
ensues. But there is no public opinion in the sense of discussion on a 
controversial point. In the third type, illustrated by the Balinese, the 
rule of the general mores is relatively complete and all issues are decided 
by customary principles. There is no public-opinion situation. There 
are distinctions as between various primitive peoples in the range of 
personal-opinion expression. In whatever system exists, the individual 
is held within the limits of traditional expression. Among the Dionysiac 
Plains Indians, the individual could swagger, aggrandize his own accom- 
plishments, tell unusual dream experiences and einphasize certain individ- 
ual variations. Among the Apollonian cultures of the Southwest, the 
individual was expected to efface himself and proceed ceremoniously in 
most situations. 1 In any case, he was bound by the traditional values, 
and variation therefrom made him subject to the taunts, jeers and recrim- 
inations of his follows. The deliberative judgment of groups, whether 
swayed by rational or irrational factors, but admitting new and alien 
values and arguments, is rare in the primitive and folk communities. 
They are swayed by custom and lack the comparative and relative habits 
of mind. They arc static and tradition-bound cultures. 

In the ancient civilizations, public opinion played some part, but the 
publics were limited in number and size, the mechanisms for expression 
of opinion were rudimentary and communication was limited. Among 
the early Hebrews, the institution of the prophets, who made direct 
appeals to crowds, canalized popular attitudes. 2 But there was little 
opportunity for popular discussion, and the role of the individual was that 
of a recipient of the supposedly revealed truth that the prophets trumpeted. 
However, among the Greeks, public opinion developed to an extent 
unequaled until modern times. By the sixth century B.C., "in their 
various struggles against aristocracy and tyranny as well as in their 

1 Benedict, R., Patterns of Culture, 1935. 

1 Read the fascinatingly vivid historical novel on Jeremiah, Werfel, F., Hearken 
unto the Voice, 1937. 


reaction against the mystical otherworldliness of such cults as Orphism 
the aggressive citizenry of the towns, particularly Athens, developed an 
atmosphere of individualism conducive to the unhampered competition 
of opinions and ideas/' 1 Publicity was emphasized and there were 
popular appeals to the masses. Of course, the masses did not include all 
people, but were composed of all citizens. In the fourth century B.C., 
there were approximately 120,000 adults, of whom 40,000 were free 
citizens, 25,000 unenfranchised free foreigners and 55,000 slaves. In the 
communal assemblies of the city states, the citizenry deliberated and 
reached joint decisions. There were also public speeches and the 
theater. "A new sort of people, these people of leisure and independent 
means, were asking questions, exchanging knowledge and views, develop- 
ing ideas. So beneath the march of armies and the policies of monarchs, 
and above the common lives of illiterate and incurious men, we note 
the beginnings of what is becoming at last nowadays a dominant power in 
human affairs, the free intelligence of mankind. " 2 There were terms with 
which to refer to opinion and the opinion process. "The Greek concepts 
ossa, pheme, or nomos were familiar in Athens and were even accorded on 
occasion a niche in the Hellenic pantheon." 3 Argumentative conversa- 
tion developed. Rules of the game emerged for intellectual conversation 
and debate, consisting Of assertions and questions and the taking of 
contrary positions. The art of dialectics was codified. Political and 
philosophical argument became fashionable. Public opinion emerged 
on controversial issues. But the size of the publics was small, and there 
was no belief in general equality only a democracy of the elite. 

The urban culture of the later Roman Empire gave scope for the opin- 
ion process. And the Romans came to speak of the vox populi. The 
wide-ranging conquests of Rome provided information about many 
peoples with their values, religions, economic and political systems. The 
size of the empire resulted in emphasis upon news. Hence the professional 
newsmongers, and in the later periods, the publications of the Ada Diurna. 
There was much to discuss, the culture was dynamic and the opinion 
process was stimulated. 

Through the Middle Ages, with the diverse, scattered, small groups 
and agrarian communities and with cultures blanketed under a common 
religious ideology oriented toward revelation and the supernatural, there 
could be little of dynamic popular opinion. Rather, there were consensus 
and traditional mores. Ultimately, there was popular acquiescence in 
the forms of government and the religious hierarchy not the support of 
popular opinion. Opinion emerges from the controversial. As Lord 

1 Bauer, W., "Public Opinion," Ency. Soc. Sci. 9 12: 671. 

* Beard, M. t On Understanding Women, p. 102, 1933. 

Bauer, op. cit., p. 669. 


Bryce wrote, "In the earlier or simpler forms of political society public 
opinion is passive. It acquiesces in, rather than supports, the authority 
which exists, whatever its faults, because it knows of nothing better, 
because it sees no way of improvement, probably also because it is over- 
awed by some kind of religious sanction." 1 

The opinion process was vivified when, in the fifteenth century, print- 
ing was invented in Europe, the Reformation questioned clerical authority 
and emphasized the individual and arts, letters and science began to cast 
off the bonds of authoritarian revelation. Public opinion developed as 
larger groups became concerned with religious issues, political systems, 
relative values and with ideologies in general. And the new means of 
communication, printing, coupled with a slowly growing literacy, dis- 
tributed the ideas. We must distinguish between the opinion process 
and the theorist's preoccupation with the opinion phenomena. The 
opinion process begins to ferment in the fift^nt^c^ntur^^lthough it 
was not until the eighteenth cenfury"TKat thejterm ^"uWic ^opinion" 
was creafea^andf the social^tHeorists cenFered attention on the mold- 
ing"6T this ^power for decision. TlieTEhlTglitenment of the seventeenth 
and "eighteenth centuries wasT the turning from the authority of divine 
revelation to the authority of reason and human understanding. 
When "natural reason" was posited, then individual opinions became 
important, and the theorists turned to an examination of the opinion 

The rise of modern publics during the past four centuries is based upon 
certain material innovations and upon changes in social organization. 
The invention of printing, and later of the telegraph, telephone, photog- 
raphy, motion pictures and radio, provided systems of communication 
whereby the great societies could be woven together. In this sense, the 
printing press of necessity preceded democracy, popular education and 
the diffusion and animation of communication. Communication is the 
fundamental human institution in that it sets the limits of community 
size and by its nature affects all types of human association. Speech 
confined association to the limits of human migration and the voice; 
writing and printing freed man for association in larger and more diverse 
societies. 2 The increased organization of craft production and later of 
manufacturing, as well as of trading, brought about a growth of cities from 
the fifteenth century onward. As had been true in Greece and Rome, 

v l Bryce, J., The American Commonwealth, vol. II, p. 271, 1891. 

1 Some of the relations between communication and the opinion process are 
considered in Chap. Ill (Communication), Chap. IV (Psychological Processes and 
Opinion), Chap. V (Language), Chap. XIX (The Radio), Chap. XX (Motion Pic- 
tures), Chap. XXI (The Newspaper) and Chap. XXII (The Graphic Arts and Public 


the animation of the opinion process followed the urban massing of 
populations. 1 Membership in street crowds, mobs, audiences and other 
urban groupings provided more numerous opportunities for interchange 
of information and news. Varied discussion was physically possible. 
Impressions were multiplied, the city became a center of cultural diversity 
and mental flexibility was engendered. But, fundamentally, the city 
provided the arena and through the physical propinquity of large masses 
of people the stage was set for gossip, rumor, discussion, speech making, 
the reading of posters and, in general, the animation of the opinion process. 
The trading, manufacturing and commercial activities of the city changed 
the class structure of society also. And the emerging middle class was 
most influential in rejecting the ancient authoritarianism, in breaking 
down the medieval consensus and in providing a forum for the doctrines 
of the Enlightenment. 

Of the nonmaterial factors that were most decisive in the beginnings 
of modern publics, the most important were the spread of literacy, the rise 
of a philosophy of rationalism and the assumption of man's natural reason, 
and the democratic ideal. That the individual can listen and under- 
stand may suffice in the folk community, but that he can read the news- 
papers, periodicals, captions, directions, posters, bulletins, and the like, is 
requisite in the great society. Widespread literacy is a modern phe- 
nomenon. Protestantism, with its emphasis on the personal relationship 
between the individual and his God through Bible reading, gave the first 
great impetus to popular literacy. ThejdQctrine of naturalr^^ 
was propounded in the eighteenth century, gave the second great Jnjpulse 
the comrnoi^peogleT^^The nationalism of tlfelftiiieteenth 

century^ with^the"^conconntant emphasis on welding together the culture 
of a nation, was the basis of the third great drive for mass literacy. 2 In 
the seventeenth century few persons could read. In the 1920's the per- 
centage of illiteracy in the United States was 4.3 per cent; Mexico, 62.2; 
Brazil, 71.2; Argentina, 24.0. At the same time in Europe, the rate for 
England, Switzerland, Sweden and Denmark was under 1 per cent; 
France, 8.0; Italy, 28.0; Spain, 42.9; the U.S.S.R., 42.3 per cent. Most of 
these figures are for the population of ten years of age and over. 3 Millions 
of people have gone from a life based on personal experiences to the larger 
world of vicarious experience through reading. 

Faith in the possibility of an enlightened popular opinion developed 
with eighteenth-century rationalism. Already in the seventeenth century 
we find Descartes declaring that "good sense" is the most widespread 
thing in the world. Middle-class man had learned to exercise foresight 

1 The relation between spatial position and opinion ia discussed in Chap. IX 
(The Geographic Distribution of Group Opinion). 
* Poole, DeW. C., Princeton Alumni Lecture*, 1936. 
a Sullivan, H., "Literacy and Illiteracy," Ency. Soc. Sd., 9: 522. 


and to organize life rationally, and he projected this capacity upon all 
men. Unrealistic theorizing about the rational man dominated the larger 
sector of eighteenth century thought. Naturally the opinions of man in 
the mass were dignified and his capacity to achieve rational solutions 
cooperatively with his fellows became an article of faith. The opinion 
process, if freely operative among masses of mankind, would produce 
truth and would arrive at rational decisions. During the past century, 
the psychological depreciation of the common man's capacity for rational 
decisions, the emphasis on the fact that man's thinking on public issues is 
not a formal intellectual game but is conditioned by his cultural values, 
his group allegiances and prejudices, and an increasing emphasis on the 
limitations of the data that the general public usually has as a basis for 
decision have undermined the rationalistic assumptions. 

The importance of the opinion process in large publics was further 
emphasized in the tenets of liberal democracy. Freedom of opinion was 
made a preeminent value. The great proponents of democratic govern- 
ment did not declare that public opinion was always right, but they did 
place faith in the ultimate soundness of popular judgments. 1 That the 
masses, under democracy, have cultivated values of a low order has been 
declared with increasing frequency of late years, not only by dictators but 
also by philosophers and psychologists. 2 

Granting the inadequacy of popular decisions under modern democ- 
racy, an important school of political theorists has declared that the 
failure is due to a lack of an adequate supply of truthful news, in the 
absence of which no rational decisions are possible. Walter Lippmann 
once wrote, " It may be bad to suppress a particular opinion, but the really 
deadly thing is to suppress the news." 3 But as Mr. Lippmann matured, 
he expressed increasing doubts of the capacity of the common man, 
narrowed the fields in which he thought the general public could effec- 
tively function and stressed the importance of the selection, canalizing 
and interpretation of the news by well-intentioned individuals. As he 
himself has been labeled the "Great Elucidator" on the basis of his 
explanations in his newspaper columns, we can assume that he con- 
siders his type of interpretation as a reputable sample of such mediated 
communication. 4 

1 For statements on the role of public opinion in democracy, read: Cooley, C. H., 
Social Organization, Chaps. 11-18, 1909; Lowell, A. L., Public Opinion and Popular 
Government^ 1913. * 

* See Ortega y Gasset, J., The Revolt of the Masses (English trans. ), 1932; Martin, 
E. D., The Conflict of the Individual and the Mass, 1932. For a summary of criticisms 
of public opinion in democracy, read Wilson, F. G., Elements of Modern Politics, 
Chap. 11, 1936. 

1 Lippmann, W., Liberty and the News, p. 64, 1920. 

4 Trace the evolution of W. Lippmann 's ideas through Liberty and the News, 1920; 
Public Opinion, 1922; The Phantom Public, 1925; The Good Society, 1937. 


But the achieving of an adequate supply of truthful news depends in 
large part upon men being equally interested in the results that news has 
on opinion. And they are not equally interested. As special interest 
groups increased during the nineteenth century, types of special pleading, 
one form of which has latterly been labeled " propaganda," became more 
common. The control of opinion became the objective of various 
religious, political, economic and reform groups. The propaganda of the 
modern authoritarian state is based upon the absolute control of formal 
news channels, upon censorship and upon the selection of news. In such 
a situation there is no possibility of truthful news. But within the liberal 
democracies various interest groups partially distort the news and the 
distribution of information. As the scramble for the markets for con- 
sumers' goods became increasingly intense from the late nineteenth 
century onward, economic groups called in the aid of advertising, publicity 
and propaganda. There are no equally interested organizations to 
provide the consumer with more impartial information. As reform 
groups increased in number during the past fifty years and became 
vigorous and effective in the peddling of their particularistic moral, 
economic or political panaceas, they leaned heavily upon modern pub- 
licity methods. There are usually no equally interested opposing groups 
to correct their statements and implement the public with opposing 
arguments. 1 But the answer is not less but more organization the 
organization of publics now diffuse, chaotic and amorphous. The 
organization of opposing groups and preferably, where possible, the dis- 
semination of more impartial information are the only answer within the 
framework of democracy. In many cases, a few tentative opposing 
statements of fact or argument would elicit such a response that the heart 
of the distortion would be laid bare. Calvin said, "I know by their 
roaring I have hit them right." Latterly there have been some roars from 
advertisers and other special pleaders. In the case of many types of special 
pleading, it is not necessary for the opposition to have so large a publicity 
budget nor to make so extended an appeal as the special pleaders. There 
are many questions that, if once asked, are difficult to overcome. They 
spread by all sorts of informal means of communication. 

It is evident that popular opinion has been considered increasingly 
important during the past century. All types of governments attempt to 
manipulate the opinions of their citizens and those of other countries. 
Economic groups depend upon the convincing of large publics as to the 
quality of the goods that are purveyed and upon the creation of good will. 
Many types of special interest groups strive for a following. Through 

1 Material on Special Interest Groups is presented in Chap. XVI, on Censorship 
in Chaps. XIV and XV and on Propaganda and The Art of Propaganda in Chaps. 


their hired publicity agents, societal leaders and notorious personages 
attempt to create their legends or to explain their behavior, attitudes 
and purposes to those sectors of the great society which they consider 
important for their purposes. None of these leaders would publicly 
subscribe to the Marquis de Sade's cynical statement that "it is a danger 
to love men, a crime to enlighten them," but, in the pursuit of personal 
and group objectives, true popular enlightenment would be inconvenient. 
However, much of the confusion is unintended. As the late Prof. Cooley 
stated, "Most of the harm in society is done with the elbows, not with 
the fists." 

The problem becomes one of values. Is the objective the unity of 
mass opinion for the furtherance of some societal institution, from the 
state on down to a minor interest group? Or is the preeminent value the 
development of the individual's psychological experience through his 
having access to a rich and stimulating diversity of fare? Is it possible 
to achieve a sufficient unity for the successful organization of the economic 
and political activities of the modern great society without regimentation 
of popular opinion? Modern communication provides the means for 
either course. 


"It is the nature of art to build languages, of which the verbal is but 
one. In sound, color, form and motion we beget evolving incarnations in 
which the human spirit can live and grow." 1 

"Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." 1 

Underlying all social process and all societal forms is the transfer 
of meaning between individuals. Social life can exist only when meaning- 
ful symbols are transferred from individual to individual. Group activi- 
ties of any sort are impossible without a means of sharing experiences. 
In the terminology of the social studies, the process of transmitting 
meaningful symbols between individuals is designated "communication." 3 
As Cooley has stated, "By communication is meant the mechanism 
through which human relations exist and develop aH the symbols of the 
mind, together with the means of conveying them through space and 
preserving them in time. It includes the expression of the face, attitude 
and gesture, the tones of the voice, words, writing, printing, railways, 
telegraphs, telephones and whatever else may be the latest achievement 
in the conquest of space and time." 4 Communication is the fundamental 
social process in that the way in which meanings are transmitted must 
inevitably affect all other social processes and the resultant forms, folk- 
ways, mores and institutions. Public opinion, among other social proc- 
esses, is affected by the communication methods in many ways, but most 
fundamentally in the size of the groups that may be involved and the 
distribution of these groups in space. Because of their face-to-face speech 
and gesture methods of transmitting symbols, the simpler primitive 
people can focus attention, discuss, and carry on other aspects of the 
opinion process only within small groups and in limited geographic areas. 
Owing to the invention of new forms of communication, the radio, 
telegraph, telephone and television, the attention area 6 of a contemporary 

1 Cooley, C. H., Life and the Student, p. 137. 

1 Daniel, 12: 4. 

1 Willey, M. M., and Rice, S. A., Communication Agencies and Social Life, p. 6, 

4 Cooley, C. H., Social Organization, p. 51, 1909. Quoted by permission of 
Charles Scribner's Sons. 

* Term used by Lasswell, H. D., World Politics and Personal Insecurity, p. 186, 



radio-listening urbanite may be practically world-wide and, at least for 
special interests, some of his discussion groups may be international if 
not world-wide in area. The attention area of the newspaper reader, at 
least for certain types of news such as the particularly atrocious murder, 
an unusual incident in the romantic quest, trade news or believe-it-or-not 
curiosities of behavior, is almost world-wide in scope. 

The methods of communication include all the ways whereby meaning 
may be transferred from individual to individual. These range from the 
most rudimentary of gestures, ill-defined and vague, to the most elaborate 
deaf-mute codes; from the crudest pictograph to the most precise nota- 
tions of mathematical symbolism; from the most spontaneous cry to 
which meaning is attached to the most elaborately defined scientific 
terminology. These meanings may be understood within groups of vary- 
ing size from the two schoolgirls whose special meanings for particular 
words give a uniqueness to their association, to those versed in the 
universal codes of mathematics, a special science or a world language. 
The methods of communication may be classified in terms of primary 
processes, those fundamental techniques which are universal, and second- 
ary techniques, which facilitate the process of communication. 1 Gesture 
and language are primary and universal in this sense. Writing facilitates 
the transfer of language and other symbol forms. The developing physi- 
cal means whereby symbols may be transported messenger, domesti- 
cated animals, boats and mechanical transportation make it possible 
to disseminate the copies of the writing or pictured symbols. Later, 
printing vastly multiplies the units to be distributed. The telegraph, 
telephone and radio transmit code and speech, and the motion picture 
preserves and disseminates pictured forms. These methods of mediated 
communication have vastly increased the swiftness of transfer and the 
diffusion of symbols. 

Facc-to-facc communication is subject to many errors of meaning and 
interpretation. One individual expresses by gesture or speech; other 
individuals interpret. Many psychological and cultural factors prevent 
a perfect transfer of meaning. Errors of perception, predispositions, 
the emotional state of the individuals and other factors distort the process 
of communication. However, in the direct contacts, when several 
sensory processes augment one another, the transfer of meaning may be 
less subject to error and distortion than in the mediated communication. 
The pictured representation of the cinema is not exactly that seen in 
face-to-face contact; the radio voice is not the voice of the public speaker 
or the conversationalist; writing notoriously formalizes speech. The 
transmitters have somewhat modified the content while conveying it. 
This distortion results from the nature of the transmitting agencies, but 

1 Sapir, E. t "Communication/' Ency. Soc. Sci., 4: 78. 


it may also be augmented with conscious intent. When a propagandist 
mistranslates "Deutschland iiber Alles," when a scholar wrenches a 
phrase of his enemy from its context and ridicules it, when a photographer 
with a candid camera catches a political executive with cigarette smoke 
in his eyes making him look pained, they are consciously distorting in 
ways made possible by the media in which they operate. 

All communication is based upon symbolic forms that are acquired 
from the cultures with which the individual has contact or are learned in 
personal experience. When a child learns a word and then experiences 
an idea, when it sees a gesture such as kneeling and learns its religious 
significance, when it sees symbolic pictured obscenity and learns to 
interpret, it is abstracting form? from the general culture. When the 
boys in a gang select a password and give it a special meaning, they are 
learning from personal experience. Both forms are transmissible. The 
symbols may be learned, and in this process man is clearly distinguishable 
from other species. 

Individuals differ greatly in their ability to communicate and in their 
opportunities to do so. Differences in innate ability and in training and 
knowledge prevent the equal sharing of the culture of a period. Vari- 
ations in skill of expression are also a differential. In gesture, for 
example, the trained actor is more superior to the average adult than the 
adult is to the small child. In speech forms there is a range from the 
vocabulary of the incoherent, loutish dolt to the skilled manipulations of 
language by a subtle poet. Expressiveness in writing varies from the 
average business letter to the nuances of a novel by Marcel Proust. 
Differences in ability to communicate may also be based upon structural 
variations from the normal. Sensory differences in sight, hearing, and the 
like, may partially isolate the individual, rendering him incapable of com- 
munication through the usual channels. Also, cultural differences 
between groups make communication difficult because of language 
differences, meanings, concepts, variable response to emotionally charged 
words and other symbols. Attention areas may be expanded without 
increase in the range of understanding of the diversity of culture. Thus, 
although the attention area of the urban newspaper reader of our time 
includes something of French politics, he usually has little understanding 
of the French political institution, the position of parties and their 
maneuverings. Recently, a Japanese general in commenting on the 
Manchurian situation said, "The Japanese never retreat, but sometimes 
they advance in a rearward formation/' Or so it was translated for the 
newspapers. Perhaps the general meant that psychologically they did 
not falter, although sometimes they were forced to give way a little in 
physical terms. Or perhaps not. But to the average newspaper reader, 
this was a play on words, nonsense, "legpulling" or just another instance 


of the bland chicancery and psychological duplicity of the Japanese 
military. There can be little understanding through such distorting 
media. Isolation may also be due to separations in space, which thus 
prevent communication. Individuals, long-separated more than the 
average from their fellows, deteriorate in their capacities for communi- 
cation. Prisoners, herders, long-exiled explorers, traders at isolated 
ports illustrate this variation. It is an intriguing theme for the writer, 
and there are many literary descriptions of the result. There are some 
autobiographical sketches of psychological change in isolation. 1 How- 
ever, under conditions of modern transportation and communication, 
isolation usually need not be prolonged except through choice. Recently 
some of the hermits of Colorado formed a club. Partial isolation, either 
psychological or spatial, with the resultant variations in the communi- 
cative processes, limits the fields of discussion and the group memberships 
of those who are thus isolated. Isolation, quite obviously, modifies the 
opinion process. 

The primary means of communication, gesture and language, have 
been extensively discussed in the literature of the social studies. 2 We 
will not consider them at great length at this point, especially as language 
forms have been related to the opinion process elsewhere in this volume. 8 


All physical movements or postures to which meaning is ascribed 
comprise the form of communication known as "gesture." These forms 
of expression range from the interpretation of an involuntary movement 
in indicating attitude to the conscious use of an elaborate code of signals, 
as in the occupational codes of railwaymen, surveyors or structural 
workers, the wigwag of Boy Scouts, the deaf-mute sign language. Cer- 
tain gestures, such as a small baby's smiles and grimaces, are unlearned, 
as are the involuntary movements of the eyes and hands of a witness. 
These are socially significant because they are interpreted, even though 
the fond mother may usually misinterpret. Most gestures, however, do 
not have such specialized and individual interpretation but are a part of 
the common culture groups where they are learned and used as an 
auxiliary and supplementary form of communication. Even the 
simplest of such gestures must be understood in terms of its associated 

1 A brilliant recent item is: Kuncz, A., Black Monastery, 1934. 

1 Prof. C. H. Cooley elaborated the relationship between communication and social 
life in his Social Organization, Chaps. 6-10, 1909, thus drawing the attention of Amer- 
ican sociologists to this fundamental process. Since then all textbooks discuss 
communication. The most elaborate and adequate treatment may be found in 
Killer, E. T., Principles of Sociology, Chaps. 6-9, 1933. 

See Chap. V. 


meaning in the particular culture. Indicating, for example, is not 
invariably done by pointing arm or finger; some American Indian tribes 
indicate by pointing the lips in various directions while conversing. The 
play of features, the variety of facial expression must, with the exception 
of a few involuntary movements, be interpreted in terms of the con- 
ventional gestures. Likewise, many bodily movements convey mean- 
ings in accordance with a predetermined code. Symbolic gestures 
may have the same, varied or exactly opposite meanings in different 

Gestures are related to the group opinion process in many ways. All 
transfer of meanings is of potential significance here. Especially, 
however, in the face-to-face contacts of leaders and groups the significant 
role of gesture in indicating attitude may be noted. The orator or 
demagogue develops individually unique and meaningful movements. 
The confident toss of the head, the clenched and bared teeth, the wide, 
grimly closed mouth, the flailing arms have characterized significant 
American leaders. Determination as exhibited by Mussolini's chin has 
become a symbol, not only in Italy, but to the entire newspaper-reading 
and cinema-attending world. During the most controversial periods in 
political opinion process, gestures may be significant symbols. The 
upraised arm, the Fascist salute, the threatening contortions of a war 
leader at a tribal dance when a primitive group is attempting to decide 
upon the desirability of a raid, the wildly gesturing leader demanding 
attention, the heroic pose of the dictator defying the world are phenomena 
of crisis conditions. Within group situations, crowds, mobs and audi- 
ences and other face-to-face groups, the membership is affected not only 
by the gestures of leaders, but by the physical poses, facial expressions 
and other gestures of their fellows. Such gestures may be profoundly 
indicative of attitude. 


Language is superior to gesture because of its range, specific mean- 
ings, nuances and variety of expression and infinite capability for abstrac- 
tion. At best, gestures are, in comparison, a rudimentary and auxiliary 
form of communication. However, unless they are written, language 
forms cannot be exactly preserved, as the changes in folk tale, the growth 
of verbal legends or the parlor game of gossip illustrate. 

Languages are a part of the culture of all peoples. The child, after 
its early experimental sounds and cries, begins to take over the language 
forms, as it acquires other elements of the culture. Thus the child is 
restricted to the limits of meaning and idea that exist within its language. 
Our language limits in a very real fashion the range of our thoughts. 
We acquire words and then learn meanings, ideas and concepts. As 


Cooley writes, "The word usually goes before, leading and kindling the 
idea we should not have the latter if we did not have the word first. 
'This way/ says the word, 'is an interesting thought: come and find it.' 
And so we are led to rediscover old knowledge. Such words, for instance, 
as good, right, truth, love, home, justice, beauty, freedom; are powerful 
makers of what they stand for." 1 The same process operates in various 
groups within a culture. Terminology may direct and limit the oper- 
ation of thought. Within a Communist group, an oft-repeated Marxian 
terminology high-lights certain economic processes but hides others in 
shadows. So does the language of every other particularistic philosophy. 
Words directing and limiting the individual's field of inquiry thus 
determine what the subjects of opinion may and may not be. The 
thought of the members of every group, national, occupational, class, 
religious or philosophical, is subtly guided by its language forms. Of 
this, the members are, for the most part, unaware. 

Not only does language as communication limit the range of thought 
within which the opinion process may operate, but the content of language 
also in part directs the methods of controversy. The use of vague phrases 
and words, devoid of exact and absolute meaning, is a commonplace of 
controversial discussion. By the use of these catchwords and phrases, 
which are usually associated with general attitudes of emotional response, 
leaders in controversy attempt to build on existing attitudes in creating 
the new opinion. The pattern of controversy is also determined by the 
content of the existing language forms for name calling and epithet 
hurling at opponents. In this process, for the want of a differentiating 
language, opponents of quite divergent types may be categorized in 
common as "damn radicals/' and the like. A solution of opinion contro- 
versy is sometimes achieved in the selection or coining of a popular 
phrase or word. In many a political and economic controversy, peace 
has been restored through the surrender of a word, phrase, title, party 
label, tax name or other significant language symbol. The way in which 
a thing is said may largely account for its controversial importance. 

Not only is the individual limited in his thought and opinion problems 
by the range of language forms within particular interest groups, but he 
is also limited in the larger scene by the language or languages with which 
he is familiar. Amidst the growing extralingual contacts of the modern 
world there is a slowly growing demand for a type of communication that 
crosses the existing language boundaries. Simplification of existing 
languages such as basic English do not provide an adequate range of 
expression for international discourse. Various artificial languages such 
as Esperanto have been developed, but existing language loyalties are so 
powerful that these invented forms have not acquired many adherents. 

1 Cooley, op. cit., p. 69. 


However, newly invented languages are tentatively put forward from 
time to'time. 1 

Although the quantity and complexity of a language is not always an 
index of the complexity of a culture in other respects, these characteristics 
do, in general, indicate the possible range of thought. Languages have 
differentiated and grown at various rates, but all the languages of the 
Western world have grown rapidly during the past few centuries. One 
method of indicating that growth is by the number of citations in diction- 
aries. In English, for example, after the rapid growth through culture 
borrowings of the sixteenth century, there were listed about 16,000 terms 
in Thomas Blount's dictionary of 1656. In 1755 Samuel Johnson pro- 
duced a two-volume dictionary in which were about 50,000 words. 
Noah Webster's two-volume dictionary of 1828 listed 70,000 words. 
A New English Dictionary published in ten volumes between 1884 and 
1928 included 414,825 words. Webster's New International and the New 
Standard Dictionary have about 600,000 entries each. It is estimated 
by language scholars that there are probably from 1 million to \Y 
million English words at the present time. 2 The growth of language 
indicates the expansion of thought. It makes possible a wider range 
of opinion phenomena and in part illustrates opinion change in the past. 


Writing gives permanence to communication, preserves the record and 
makes it accessible. Speech is transitory and distorted in remembrance. 
Oral tradition is faulty, perverted by human psychological factors and 
limited in amount by the capacity of memory. Without writing there 
can be little organization and permanence of knowledge. Religious, 
political and philosophical thought could develop complexity only after 
the accumulations of successive generations could be adequately recorded. 
Record sticks, cords, marks, tallies, pictorial representations of various 
kinds and on many media have been developed by many primitive 
peoples to give permanence to a part of their records. Obviously, these 
permitted but limited communication, however, and it was not until 
pictorial and phonetic writing developed that complete records of 
incidents, of histoiy, folk wisdom and sayings, of legal forms, thought 
and opinion could be made. People were then freed from the immediate 
and the local. But these records were limited in number and accessible 
only to the elite. With printing came the diffusion of knowledge, but 
not immediately. At first, printing was viewed as a way of avoiding 
error, for even the most careful scribes made mistakes. Block printing 
was first developed in China in the sixth century, and movable type made 

i Jespersen, O., An International Language, 1928. 
* Kennedy, A. G., Current English, pp. 389 ff. t 1935. 


of earthenware was invented in China between 1041 and 1049. The 
casting of tin type followed shortly, and by 1314 a typesetting machine 
using wooden type was employed. 1 Alphabetical type and the printing 
press were European inventions. In the second quarter of the fifteenth 
century, Gutenberg produced the printing press in Germany. Printing 
spread quickly, especially to Italy and France where scores of cities 
established presses and began to print the classics. The Renaissance 
was based in part upon printing. 2 

Printing could develop only in conjunction with satisfactory paper 
and inks. But these, too, had been invented by the Chinese in the early 
centuries of our era. Although the date A.D. 105, to which the invention 
of paper is ascribed in the Dynastic Records, may have been arbitrarily 
chosen, it is certain that by the third century the Chinese were using 
paper of rags, hemp and various plant fibers. Paper of various colors 
was used not only for writing but as wrapping paper, decoration and for 
other uses. 3 An oily ink, suitable for use with stencils, stamps, seals 
and type had likewise been developed by that time. Although type 
printing was independently invented in Germany in the fifteenth century, 
the arts of paper making and of ink manufacture had, long before, been 
diffused from China throughout Europe. 

The first significant use of printing to popularize knowledge, making 
appeals beyond the ranks of the elite, occurred when the leaders of the 
Reformation attempted to extend the influence of their doctrines and to 
arouse groups previously apathetic to the abuses of the church. They 
printed cheap books and pamphlets as propaganda. Indeed, proselyting 
zeal, especially for Christianity, has been responsible for the printing of 
scores of native languages since that time. In China, the earliest printed 
materials were Buddhist pictures and texts. Of religious influence in 
the development of printing, Carter states, "It can be said with equal 
truth that every advance into new territory made by printing has had its 
motive in expanding religion. In the whole long history of the advance 
of printing from its beginning in China down to the twentieth century, 
there is scarcely a language or a country where the first printing done has 
not been either from the sacred scriptures or from the sacred art of one 
of the world's three great missionary religions." 4 The disruptive effect 
upon existing institutions of the popularization of knowledge was 
recognized at once, and in 1501 Pope Alexander VI issued his edict 
against unlicensed printing. A decade before that, the German univer- 
sities had established censorship beards. Printing made possible 

1 Carter, T. F., The Invention of Printing in China, Chap. 5, 1925. 

* Duffus, R. L., " Printing," Ency. Soc. Sci. t 12: 480. 

* See Carter, op. cit. t Chap. 3. 
4 Carter, op. dt. t p. 17. 


popular education and political democracy; it energized thought and 
stimulated agitation, enlarged publics and brought forth a new type of 


The factors contributing to the efficiency of communication have 
been characterized as " expressiveness, or the range of ideas and feelings 
it is competent to carry; permanence of record, or the overcoming of time; 
swiftness, or the overcoming of space; diffusion, or access to all classes of 
men." 1 Some gains have been made in expressiveness during the past 
century. The increased number of words, the rapid growth of which we 
have noted, has provided a more flexible language tool. Combinations of 
sensory stimuli in the talking picture or in television when popularized 
provide a somewhat different but not more expressive medium than actual 
face-to-face contacts. In the various art forms, experimental techniques 
of manipulation of line, color or words persistently attempt to make 
communication more expressive. Thus far these innovations have had 
little popular success. Some increase in permanence of the record has 
been achieved through pictorial libraries (of still and moving and talking 
pictures), improved materials in books and papers (one New York news- 
paper prints a special rag edition for libraries) and the variety of sources 
from which information may be obtained, thus giving a better chance for 
survival. Yet much material from the far-distant past has been found 
in an adequate state of preservation. For example, in 1900, a mendicant 
Taoist priest discovered in a walled-up chamber in the Caves of the 
Thousand Buddhas in the province of Kansu, China, a collection of 1,130 
bundles of manuscript written between the fifth and the tenth centuries. 
Most of the 15,000 books in the bundles were in as good condition as if 
recently written, so perfected was paper and ink manufacture among the 
Chinese by that time. Nonetheless, owing to climatic factors as well as 
to the quality of materials, most records have been lost. Preservation 
of records, thus ensuring cultural continuity through historical descrip- 
tion, is now assured. 

However, it is in swiftness and diffusion of the various media of 
communication that the great changes of the modern period have 
occurred. Before considering something of the social significance of this 
increased swiftness and diffusion, some quantitative materials, illustrative 
of the speed of transfer and of the distribution of books, newspapers, 
periodicals, motion pictures and radio, will be listed. The earliest 
known printed book, a Chinese block print, was discovered in China in 
1900. It is a volume of six sheets of text about 2% feet long by 1 foot 
wide. According to the preface it was printed on May 11, A.D. 868 by 
1 Cooley, op. cit. t p. 80. 


Wang Chieh for "free general distribution, in order in deep reverence to 
perpetuate the memory of his parents." A few thousand volumes had 
been printed by the Chinese before the invention of the printing press by 
Gutenberg. By the end of the fifteenth century there were, perhaps, 
30,000 items in all Europe. After that they multiplied rapidly. "The 
world's total book production to date has been estimated at 17,000,000 
volumes. The present annual output is about 283,000; while the total 
number published during the entire sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth 
and nineteenth centuries was, respectively 520,000; 1,250,000; 2,000,000; 
and 8,250,000. The Biblioth&que Nationale of Paris occupies first place 
among the libraries of the world, with its more than 4,000,000 volumes. 
The Library of Congress at Washington is second, with 3,556,765 volumes. 
In 1930 there were over forty-four million volumes in the libraries of 
American universities and colleges." 1 In the United States in 1929, 
there were 6429 libraries of more than 3000 volumes each, with 154,- 
310,000 volumes. 2 The number of copies of books and pamphlets issued 
in the United States by years is reported by the Census of Manufactures. 
In round numbers, there were 160 million in 1907, 470 million in the peak 
year of 1927, and 268 million in 1933. Certain types of books increased 
but little or in terms of population increase have even decreased per 
capita. For example, contrary to popular belief, there were 46 million 
copies of fiction books produced in 1909, 34 million in 1927, and 11 
million in 1933. Of course this does not necessarily mean less reading of 
fiction, as there are now large numbers of lending libraries and fewer 
individuals buy books of fiction. Other types have increased rapidly; 
children's books, for example, have quadrupled production. 

The development of various kinds of communication in the United 
States from 1900 to 1935, as compared to the growth of population, has 
been indicated on Fig. 1. The rate of increase is indicated thereon. 

In 1810 there were 359 periodicals and newspapers published in the 
United States; in 1932 there were 16,706. 3 We have apparently become 
insatiable readers of monthly periodicals, for their circulation in 1933 
was 103 million and in 1929, 133 million, whereas in 1899 there were but 
37 million copies distributed. The household magazines, the farm jour- 
nals, the " pulps," the " slicks" and the weeklies have all gained enor- 
mously. The wide circulation of some of these journals may be indicated 
by the fact that of the household magazines, The Ladies Home Journal, 
Woman's Home Companion, Pictorial Review, Good Housekeeping and 
McCalVs, each has well over 2 million per month distribution. Certain 

1 Hiller, op. tit., p. 134. Reprinted by permission of Harper & Brothers. 
Willey and Rice, op. tit. t p. 211. 

1 Census of Manufactures, 1905, Bulletin 79, p. 240, and A yer's Directory of News- 
paper* end Periodicals. 



journals meeting a definite popular demand reach an amazing circulation 
very quickly. True Story, providing vicarious experience, chiefly 
amorous, for its readers, topped 2 million less than six years after first 
publication. Of the weekly magazines, The Saturday Evening Post, 
Collier's and Liberty are each well over 2 million circulation. Diverse in 
content, policy and the reading publics to whom they appeal, these 
monthly and weekly periodicals are potent factors in influencing popular 
opinion. The circulations of the monthly and quarterly periodicals, as 


19001905 1910 1915 1920 1925 1930 

I I I I 


Aggregate Number 
Published per Year 






e Weekday 















WOO 1905 1910 1915 1920 1925 1930 1935 


I 13 

'i 9 



J 160 


00 1905 1910 1915 1920 I92S 1930 193 













00 1905 1910 1915 1920 1925 1930 193 


1 and Ocean M< 
per Year 









** ~ 


00 1905 1910 1915 1920 1925 1930 193 

1900 1905 1910 1915 1920 1925 1930 1935 

FIG. 1. 

compiled from the various issues of the Census of Manufactures, are 
presented in Table I. 

With the development of popular journalism in the 1890's, in the 
period of the "yellow" journalism of Hearst and Pulitzer, newspaper 
circulations began to mount rapidly as larger publics became newspaper 
readers. To the newspaper's essential function of reporting important 
news with comments thereon, there were added the purveying of organ- 
ized gossip, vicarious experience in the personal doings of great and of 
representative individuals, and numerous feature sections. The news- 
paper was circulated among new millions. Although accurate information 










































on newspaper circulations, based upon publishers' sworn statements, exists 
for only the past few years, what figures there are have been incorporated 
in Table II. 

Letters, pamphlets, periodicals, newspapers, books and the other 
media of communication could reach only those points to which there was 
some means of transportation and could arrive there only at the speed of 
the transport. Runners and domestic animals, rowboats and sailboats 
could proceed but slowly. A century ago, in 1834, Sir Robert Peel was 
summoned from Italy to England on secret affairs of state. Traveling 
posthaste he made the journey in no shorter time than would an old 
Roman emperor. But mechanical transportation means were being 
invented. First, in the nineteenth century, came the steamships, then 
the railroads. By the middle of the eighties Butler in England and 
Daimler in France had developed automobiles. Electric railways had 
also been invented. Then in 1905 Farman and the Wrights began to fly 
biplanes. The speeds of these various means of transportation increased 
rapidly during the past 50 years. Hornell Hart has recorded this increase 
with the following figures. 1 The world's record for a mile run is at the 
rate of 14.6 miles per hour; for a 100-yard sprint it is 24.5 miles per hour. 
At these rates, man has practically reached his limits. The running 
record for a horse is 37.8 miles per hour, which can be raised but very 
little by breeding and training. Locomotives in 1825 attained a speed 
of 15 miles per hour, in 1829 of 44, in 1848 of 68, and in 1901 of 120. 
Automobiles developed from 14.7 miles per hour in 1895 to 301 in 1935. 
Airplanes in 1905 had started with a speed of 33 miles per hour; in 1935 
F. Angello flew 423 miles per hour. The shrinkage of the world in terms 

1 Hart, H., Technique of Social Progress, pp. 76-79, 1931. 
the figures for 1935. 

The author has added 



PAPERS, 1904-1935 


Books and 
number of 

aggregate cir- 
culation per 

English language newspaper circulation, 
aggregate circulation per issue 







(Morning and 


evening totaled) 

















(Morning and 


evening totaled) 















































































Books and pamphlets 






Census of Manufactures, 


Census of Manufactures, 


Editor and Publisher In- 

1935, pamphlet, Table 8, 

1935, pamphlet, Table 7, 

ternational Year Book, 

p. 19 

p. 18 

1936, p. 146 

1933 -i 

Census of Manufactures, 

1933 1 

Census of Manufactures, 


Editor and Publisher In- 

1931 / 

1933, pamphlet, Table 7, 

1931 ) 

1933, pamphlet, Table 6, 

ternational Year Book, 

p. 12 

p. 12 

1935, p. 133 

1929 -i 

Census of Manufactures, 

1929 | 

Census of Manufactures, 

1922 ^ 

Editor and Publisher In- 

1927 / 

1929, Table 5, p. 386 

1927 / 

1929, Table 22, p. 594 

1933 / 

ternational Year Book, 


Census of Manufactures, 

1925 ^ 

Census of Manufactures, 

1934, p. 109 

1925, Table 6, p. 662 

1923 > 

1925, Table 23, p. 676 


Census of Manufactures, 

1923 "i 

Census of Manufactures, 

1921 j 

1914 > 

1919, Table 109, p. 152 

1921 / 

1923, Table 8, p. 607 

1919 "> 

Census of Manufactures, 

1909 j 


Census of Manufactures, 

1914 J 

1921, Tables 530, p. 635; 

1914 *> 

Morning and evening 


1919, Table 111, p. 154 

535, p. 638; 536, 537, 

1909 / 

figures from Census of 

1909 j 

p. 639 

Manufactures, 1914, 

1909 \ 

Census of Manufactures, 

Table 41, p. 651 

1904 / 

1914, Tables 51, p. 658; 


Census of Manufactures, 

57, 58 and 59, p. 661 

1914, vol. II, Table 39; 

p. 649 


of transportation speeds has often been commented upon. This may be 
illustrated by the record of the number of days required to circle the 
globe. The time was decreased from the 1090 days needed by Magellan's 
crew in 1522 to the time of Henry Frederick, who made the trip in 1903 
in 54 days; to that of Evans and Wells, who encircled the globe in 29 days 
in 1926; to that of the "Graf Zeppelin," whose record was 21 days in 
1929; to that of Post and Gatty, who in 1931 flew around the world in 9 
days ; to that of Hughes and his associates, who circled the globe in 3 days, 
19 hours, in 1938. These are records; average transportation is, of 
course, much slower. 

All means of transportation are used to carry the mails. From the 
time when Cyrus the Elder, 2500 years ago, had conquered the Persian 
Empire and organized mail routes for political messages, until the coming 
of the railroads, there was no speedier method of transporting mail than 
the man on horseback. 1 In Colonial America the mail service was a 
haphazard affair. After 1753 when Benjamin Franklin was made 
Deputy Postmaster General for the Colonies, a more orderly system was 
developed, but it frequently was weeks before a letter posted in Phila- 
delphia was delivered in Boston. Mail was first delivered by railroad in 
the 1830's. As the railroad mileage was extended, reaching 193,346 
miles by 1900 and 249,052 miles in 1930, more and more towns received 
mail direct by rail without the use of auxiliary carriers. Transportation 
by water rapidly increased in speed through the nineteenth century, and 
the speediest vessels were used for mail delivery. In 1918, Congress 
made a first appropriation for an air-mail system, the first route being 
from New York to Washington. 2 In the meantime, various means of 
intraurban mail transportation such as the pneumatic-tube systems were 
developed. The communication needs of our economic systems, the 
rise of special interest groups with scattered memberships, the speedy 
development of printed forms and the mobility of populations, which 
created a larger need for correspondence, brought about a rapid increase 
in the quantity of mail. In the United States the pieces of mail carried 
were four billion in 1890, eight billion in 1900, fourteen billion in 1910, 
twenty-five billion in 1925, and twenty-eight billion in 1930. 8 

Other means of increasing the swiftness of communication likewise 
developed. Throughout human history, shouts, calls, signals, drum 
language and other means of transferring limited meanings have been 
used. With the invention of gunpowder, sound signals were used, 
especially in warfare or for special events. When the Erie Canal was 

1 Woodbury, D. O., Communication, p. 179, 1931. 

1 See the Rand McNally Commercial Atlas for the present network of railroads, 
motor roads and airlines over which mail is transported. 
* Statistical Abstract of t-he United States, 1931. 


opened, the inrush of waters was heralded in a few minutes by cannon 
fire from Erie to New York. Rapid communication of complete and 
elaborate messages, however, was possible only after the invention of 
electrical transmission in the nineteenth century. Mechanical extension 
of the range of the human voice had been slightly developed before that 
time. In 1670, Sir Samuel Moreland is said to have talked with the king 
by means of a tuba stentorophonica at a distance of 13/ miles. 1 The 
great step in the transmission of messages was made when Samuel Morse 
produced his first working model of a telegraph in 1837. Other tele- 
graphic systems were in use in England and in France, but these were 
quickly superseded by Morse's simple device. With money appropriated 
by Congress ho built a line from Washington to Baltimore and successfully 
transmitted messages in 1844. From then on, the growth of telegraph 
systems was rapid. In 1902 there were 237,990 miles of line, and in 1927 
this had been increased to 256,809 miles. 2 But the capacity of these 
lines had increased many times, owing to inventions making possible the 
transmission of as many as eight messages simultaneously. 3 Trans- 
oceanic telegraphy by means of cables was accomplished in 1858 after 
numerous unsuccessful attempts. The cable functioned, but, owing to 
faults in insulation, it failed a few months afterward. It was not until 
1866 that a successful North Atlantic cable was completed. By 1931 
there were twenty-one North Atlantic cables. The Pacific had been 
spanned in 1903 and world service inaugurated. The number of mes- 
sages transmitted by oceanic cables increased from 820 per day in 1902 to 
13,987 in 1927. Land telegraphic messages during the same period 
increased from 90,835 to 215,595. 4 In terms of increasing populations 
this was a per capita increase of 60 per cent. 

By the summer of 1876, after several years of experiment, Alexander 
Graham Bell not only had developed the central idea of telephonic 
communication but with the assistance of T. A. Watson had created a 
working model. At first viewed as a novelty exhibited at the Phila- 
delphia Centennial and in Bell's lectures throughout the country, it was 
commercially established in 1877. Various lines were rapidly established, 
later for the most part joined together in the Bell System, a federation of 
independent units. The growth in the number of telephones in the 
United States is from 1,355,911 in 1900 to 19,690,187 in 1931. The per 
capita calls per year have increased from 64 in 1902 to 246 in 1927. * 

1 Woodbury, op. cit., p. 8. 
1 Willey and Rice, op. cit., p. 123. 

1 Popular descriptions of the development of telegraph maybe found in Kaempffert, 
W., Modern Wonder Workers, pp. 289^"., 1924, and Woodbury, D. 0., op. cit., Chap. 5. 
4 Willey and Rice, op. cit., Table 39, p. 126. 
* Ibid., Table 42, p. 138. 


The theoretical background for the production of the radio had been 
developed before 1895 by the work of the physicists Faraday, Oersted, 
Maxwell and Heinrich Hertz, the discoverer of Hertzian waves. The 
inventor of wireless telegraphy, however, was not a professional scientist 
but an Italian boy, twenty years of age, Guglielmo Marconi. He 
obtained the first patent in 1896. Communication between ships at 
sea, between ships and land stations and from point to point without wire 
connections became possible. Remote areas were brought within the 
orbit of communication centers. This new agency was rapidly incor- 
porated into the communication system so that by 1927 there were 
3,777,538 messages transmitted. 1 By 1906, wireless telephony had been 
achieved, but it was not until 1920 that popular programs were broadcast. 
In that year, the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company 
began to broadcast programs to near-by amateurs. Meeting with an 
enthusiastic popular response, radio spread rapidly. Within two years, 
there were 382 broadcasting stations scattered throughout the country, 
and by 1930 there were 612. In 1922 there were 190,000 receiving sets in 
use; the Bureau of the Census in 1930 enumerated 16,026,620 sets; the 
Census of Manufactures shows 2,896,964 new sets constructed during 
1933. Of course, some of these were replacements. Radio receiving 
sets in the United States are distributed very unevenly. In New Jersey, 
63.3 per cent of all families own sets, whereas in Mississippi only 5.4 
per cent of the families have acquired sets. Elsewhere in the world, 
distribution varies from areas such as Canada, Argentina, Denmark, 
France, Germany, Sweden, Australia and the United Kingdom (where 
the distribution of sets, although lower than in the United States, is 
highest of the rest of the world) to vast populous areas of China, India, 
Africa, where the number of sets is negligible. 2 

The motion pictures, a most vivid pictorial portrayal, later aug- 
mented by sound, started in the United States in 1902. By 1931 there 
were 22,731 motion-picture houses with a seating capacity of 11,300,000 
and an estimated weekly attendance of about 100,000,000. The effects 
of the motion-picture presentation upon popular opinion, although 
obviously far-reaching, are not known in any exact fashion. 

With the successive introductions of these various means of com- 
munication, there have been prophecies of the rapid decrease or disap- 
pearance of any widespread use of other forms. Thus the telephone 
was to oust the telegraph, the radio seriously to damage the newspaper 
and wireless telegraphy to eliminate the submarine cable. Naturally 
they have greatly affected one another, but, in a world of rapidly growing 

1 Ibid., p. 130. 

1 For a more elaborate quantitative account of radio facilities, see Chap. XIX; of 
motion pictures, see Chap. XX. 


needs for communication, new uses and a secure place for each of them 
have been made. Preoccupied with the invention and development of all 
these forms and with the content of the materials communicated, our 
understanding of the social significance and of the effects upon the individ- 
ual of this rapidly diversified world of contacts has not kept pace with 
the inventions themselves. 


The content of various media of communication has been studied by 
various types of measurement and analysis. Of the many organized but 
nonquantitative studies of the content of media of communication there 
are the following: the various services summarizing news; r6sum6s of 
particular sections of the newspaper; historical studies of the newspaper 
for a special content, such as Irene C. Willis' England's Holy War; surveys 
of the content of different classifications of books, such as reviews of 
family folkways and mores as portrayed in contemporary novels ; surveys 
of the content of textbooks, as in the works of D. R. Taft and Bessie L. 
Pierce or in C. J. H. Hayes' volume on France; 2 the study of the language 
forms in sections of the newspaper or the radio and many other types of 
analysis. But we may limit our interest here to the quantitative studies 
of content. 

1. The most extensive list of such studies deals with the subject mat- 
ter of the newspapers. The larger question is, of course, the influence of 
the newspaper content on the readers and the way in which known reader 
attitudes affect the presentation of news. However, until very recently 
there had been no experimental attempt to measure such influences. 
Some of the problems of a program of research in this field have recently 
been indicated by J. L. Woodward. 3 On the other hand, content studies 
of the newspaper have been numerous. In 1900, D. F. Willcox measured, 
by the column-inch method, and classified the contents of a single issue of 
each of 240 newspapers. Since then, samples of urban and country news- 
papers have been measured in this way, with an increasing refinement of 
classification and adequacy of sampling. Latterly, M. M. Willey and his 
students have been most active. 4 In the measurement of the amount of 

1 This section is an excerpt from the author's article, "The Content of Radio 
Programs, 1925-1935," Soc. Forces, 16: 338-349. 

1 Taft, D. R., "History Textbooks and International Differences," Publs. Am. 
Social. Soc., 19: 180-183 (1924); Pierce, B. L., Civic Attitudes in American School 
Textbooks, 1930; the chapter on textbooks and the appendix of Hayes, C. J. H., 
France, A Nation of Patriots, 1930. 

1 Woodward, J. L., "Quantitative Newspaper Analysis as a Technique of Opinion 
Research," Soc. Forces, 12: 526-537. 

* Willey, M. M., The Country Newspaper, 1926. 
Walker, G., "A Yardstick for the Measurement of County Weekly Service," 


space devoted to special subjects in the papers, the students of crime have 
been most solicitous as to whether criminals were corrupted by the press. 
This has led to an assiduous measuring of space and counting of citations, 
from the study of Francis Fenton in 1911 to that of Virginia Cole in 1927 
to Frank Harris in 1932. l There is no convincing evidence of the influ- 
ence of the newspaper on crime. There have been other studies of a 
.special content, such as Simpson's study of Negro news in white news- 
papers, Woodward's measurement of the amount of foreign news in 
American newspapers and Hornell Hart's scale for rating newspapers by 
their content. 2 

With the exception of a sample taken twenty-five years after the 
Willcox study for comparison with that early effort and of Taubner's 
Minnesota record, these content measurements have been neither com- 
parative studies nor, because of differences in classifications, usually 
comparable. And yet this comparison over time intervals may well be 
their chief value. For the factors that they do not measure, such as 
position or relative effectiveness and quality of writing may be 
assumed not to vary greatly, at least in relatively short time 
comparisons, or to cancel one another, while at the same time significant 
changes may be exposed by the series of comparisons by quantitative 
column-inch measurements. 

2. The content of the commercial motion pictures had not been studied 
in an organized fashion until the recent Payne Fund Studies, 3 although a 
very extensive discussion of that content has appeared in periodicals since 
1910. However, the articles dealt in controversial opinions both as to the 

Jour. Quar., 7: 293-302. 

Taubner, I. B., "Changes in Content and Presentation of Reading Material in 
Minnesota Weekly Newspapers, 1860-1929," Jour. Quar., 9: 281-289. 

1 Fenton, F., The Influence of Newspaper Presentation upon Crime, 1911. 

Cole, V. L., The Newspaper and Crime, University of Mo., Bulletin 28, 4, 1927. 

Harris, F., Presentation of Crime in Newspapers: A Study of Methods in Newspaper 
Research, 1932. 

1 Simpson, G., "Negro News in White Newspapers/ 1 Publs. Am. Sociol. Soc., 25: 
157-159 (1930). 

Woodward, J. L., Foreign News in American Morning Papers, Columbia Univer- 
sity Press, 1930. 

Hart, H., and Kingsbury, S. M., " Measuring the Ethics of American News- 
papers," Jour. Quar., 10: 93-108, 10: 181-201 (1933). 

Hart, H., and Kingsbury, S. M., "Newspaper Bias on Congressional Contro- 
versies/ 1 Jour. Quar., 10: 323-342. 

'There had been studies of particular pictures used for educational purposes. 
Also, certain special interest groups had made general surveys. For example, the 
question of internationalism as treated by the motion pictures has been discussed in 
several brief surveys summarized in articles in that curiously titled periodical of a 
League of Nations subcommittee, the International Rev. Educational Cinematography. 


content of the motion pictures and their effects on various age groups. 
Certain aspects of the content of a sizable sample of motion pictures have 
recently been classified and enumerated in Edgar Dale's report. 1 After 
attempting, without much success, to weight for frequency of attendance, 
he selected 115 pictures, 45 made in 1929, 46 in 1930 and 24 in 1931. 
These pictures were viewed and certain items of content recorded 
on schedule sheets, with sections dealing with locales of pictures, economic 
status of leading characters, occupations of leading characters, types of 
residences, number of crimes per picture, murder techniques, types of 
crime attempted and other classifications. Of these 115 pictures, 40 
were selected for more intensive analysis, such items as the following 
being considered : age of leading characters; nationalities; types of clothing 
worn by characters; techniques, circumstances and frequency of love- 
making; marital status of characters; recreation; frequency of use 
of liquor and tobacco; apparent objectives in life of leading characters; 
other items of behavior and attitude. In addition, Dale classified the 
titles of 500 pictures for each of the years 1920, 1925 and 1930. He also 
analyzed the content of two newsreels, one for a period of 59 weeks and 
the other for 44 weeks. Certain ethical aspects of the content of the 
feature pictures were classified in greater detail by C. C. Peters, who wrote 
brief accounts of incidents of ethical significance in the pictures 
and submitted these to several small groups. The members of these 
groups judged whether or not the behavior of the motion-picture char- 
acters, as described in the written account submitted to them, was in 
agreement with the prevailing mores in their experience. 5 The validity of 
thus abstracting single items and incidents from their context and also of 
transferring from one medium of communication (the movies) to another 
(the written account) is open to grave questioning as to method. The 
judge's response as to whether Miriam's amorous escapade with Robert 
is in accord with the mores may be quite different when that behavior is 
described in written form and when it appears as a culminating experience 
after an hour's sympathetic response by the judge, not only to Miriam's 
enchanting loveliness and zest for life, but also to her particular human 
problems. By that time he may well believe that most people could see 
that there are extenuating circumstances. 

3. A few years ago F. M. Vreeland classified the content of the articles 
of the American Birth Control Review. Two judges classified and counted 
the articles as having a predominantly emotional appeal, propagandists 
content, essentially scientific viewpoint, and the like. The purpose was 
to show the changing emphasis of the Birth Control Review in the various 
periods of development of the organized movement in the United States* 

1 Dale, E., The Content of Motion Picture*, 1935. 

Peters, C. C., Motion Picture* and Standard* qf Mortality, 1934. 


This was, so far as is known to the author, a pioneer study in periodical 
content. 1 Hornell Hart's recent extensive survey of the titles of articles 
cited in the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature is the most elaborate 
study of the magazines. The titles dealing with the various items were 
counted in the yearly editions of the Reader's Guide from 1900, and the 
increase and decline of frequency of discussion was assumed to reflect 
in a general way changing social attitudes and interests. 2 

4. The popularization of the radio during the past fifteen years has 
been accompanied by a wealth of prophetic writing as to its potentialities, 
the future content of its programs and its important political and social 
destiny. Glenn Frank, among many others, proclaimed that America 
had found its acropolis. Organized gathering of information, however, 
has been largely dominated by the research divisions of commercial 
broadcasting companies, interested in listener response. And much of 
their data has not been published. Most of the published material, and 
it is voluminous, 8 deals with listeners' choices of programs, the various 
methods of eliciting information about these choices and correlated buying 
habits or other responses. 

Published studies of the content of programs are not numerous. And 
the content has been recorded in different ways. In 1927, G. A. Lund- 
berg, using the published schedule of programs and time of all the 
stations of New York City for the month of February, classified the 
percentage of time spent on various programs as follows: educational, 
9.3; religious, 5.3; dance music, 26.2; other music, 48.0; children's 
programs, 1.1; drama and readings, 2.6; information, 2.8; sports, 1.8; 
miscellaneous, 2.6. 4 

Another type of record is illustrated by C. Kirkpatrick's study of 
radio broadcasting in Minneapolis. 5 Although the bulk of his report is 
devoted to the attitudes and habits of radio listeners, he has included a 
brief section on program content. Students sampled the programs of 
the Twin Cities for a week, classifying them according to an elaborate 
schedule. The sampling was obtained by listening in to the various 
programs and noting on a schedule card the amount of time devoted to 
different types. A check of listener agreement shows an average of 80.2 
per cent agreement by classifiers. 

1 Vreeland, F. M., The Process of Reform with Especial Reference to Reform Groups 
in the Field of Population, thesis, University of Michigan, 1929. 

1 Hart, H., in Recent Social Trends, pp. 382-442, 1933; "Changing Opinions about 
Business Prosperity," Am. Jour. SocioL, 38: 665-687. 

3 Examine the bibliography of 732 items appended to Lumley, F. H., Measurement 
in Radio, Ohio State University Press, 1934. 

4 Lundberg, G. A., "Content of Radio Programs," Soc. Forces, 7: 58-60. 

1 Kirkpatrick, C., Report of a Research into the Attitudes and Habit* of Radio 
LUteners, Webb Book Co., St. Paul, Minn., 1933. 


A more extensive, but methodologically inadequate, record of a 
sample of one day's programs of 206 commercial stations was made by the 
Ventura Free Press in California. l The sampling was done by tuning in at 
15-minute intervals. Apparently there was no comparison of the listen- 
ers' reliability of classification. H. S. Hettinger, using a rather arbitrary 
classification schedule, presents the percentages of program content for 
key stations of the national networks during the second weeks of Novem- 
ber, 1931 and 1932, and the last week of January, 1934. The sample is 
small. 2 H. Cantril and G. W. Allport, in their recent volume on the 
radio, report on a classification of program content for one month of a 
single station (WBZ, Boston, for October, 1933). They used a schedule 
of thirty-two items. The reliability of the classifiers is not reported. 3 
The data for the analysis were obtained from the records of the broad- 
casting station. 

These are the principal types of study of content. Diverse in meth- 
ods, sources and schedule forms, they provide us with little that is com- 
parable, adequate or inadequate though the individual studies may be, 
and, with the exception of the sample from the two years 1931 and 1932 
taken by Hettinger, there is nothing on trends of content. The author 
has reported elsewhere the results of an extensive study of content of 
radio programs. 4 


The effects upon social structures and processes, including the 
opinion process, of increased speed and diffusion of communication are 
discussed or implicit in the various sections of this volume. There is no 
attempt at this point to give a recapitulation of details. However, 
there are certain general effects that may profitably be summarized. 
Among these are the following: the creation of large political units; 
individual opinion and international relations; the expansion of interest 
groups; effects upon individual and small-group uniqueness; the organi- 
zation of the opinion processes; the spread of culture forms; the creation 
of new fields of vicarious experience; the bulk of communicated materials 
as compared with the individual's capacity to absorb them. 

When Plato defined the limits of the size of a city as the number of 
people who could hear the voice of a single orator, he was illustrating the 

*" American Broadcasting: An Analytical Study of One Day's Output of 206 
Commercial Radio Stations," Ventura Free Press, 1933. 

'Hettinger, H. S., " Broadcasting in the U. S.," Ann. Am. Acad. Pol. Soc. Sci., 
177: 1-14, table, p. 13. 

* Cantril, H., and Allport, G. W., The Psychology of Radio, p. 76, 1935. 

See Chap. XIX, and Albig, W., "The Content of Radio Programs, 1925-1935," 
Soc. Forces, 16: 338-349. 


limits that communication places upon community. The integration 
of any social unit is dependent upon the capacity to transfer ideas, to 
transmit administrative orders and to prevent disintegration at outlying 
points. It is a truism that the size of political units is limited by the 
methods of communication and transportation. By means of horse 
travel, messengers and signals, the early empires governed sizable 
territories, but always with a precarious foothold in those areas far 
distant from the center of government. Effective coordination of even 
the then known world was impossible. It is often stated that the modern 
national and territorial states were brought into existence by the develop- 
ment of adequate means of communication. Indeed, "the central fact 
of history, from a psychological point of view, may be said to be the 
gradual enlargement of social consciousness and rational cooperation." 1 
The organized sway of public opinion in the great society was possible 
only when opinion could be formed and expressed by large groups within 
relatively short time periods. Thus, the printing press preceded democ- 
racy, for large states could be based only upon common knowledge. 
In the maintenance of political integration the influence of the newspaper 
and periodical, the telegraph and telephone, and the recent influence of 
the radio is obvious. 

The present means of communication have made possible an inte- 
gration far beyond the present political boundaries. But even though 
physical space has been annihilated, the psychological differences among 
people of different countries remain. And these are often maintained 
or enhanced to ensure national unity in the struggle for some objective. 
For example, in recent years Norwegian politicians and leaders have, as 
a matter of deliberate policy, changed certain Norwegian words in order 
to differentiate their language from that of the Danes. Awareness of the 
opinions of other peoples is obscured by censorship, by a controlled press 
and by propaganda. Communication does not invariably bring either 
understanding or amity. On the contrary, clashes of interest are thereby 
frequently made more apparent not only to leaders but to whole peoples. 
Newspaper accounts, even when true, may inflame hatreds. Motion 
pictures, internationally distributed, may cause peoples to dislike each 
other rather than bring about mutual understanding. European 
colonial officers in Africa often bitterly complain that certain motion 
pictures, as interpreted by the natives, make the whites ridiculous. 
For ten years the radio has been a source of dissension in Europe; in the 
radio-armament race, powerful nuisance transmitters have been erected 
near national boundaries. 

Of late years, especially in England and the United States, the 
technique of solving international controversy by popular understanding 
^ l Cooley, op. cit., p. 113. 


of the issues has been enthusiastically endorsed by a host of international 
amity organizations. A method of round-table discussion of conflict 
situations on race, labor relations and economic problems, at times used 
successfully in face-to-face relations, is to be applied to larger groups. 
Place the cards on the table; frankly tell all the facts; explain attitudes; 
publicly verbalize the essential differences. Admirable and successful 
though this procedure often is in certain conflict situations, can it be 
doubted that with the present cultural diversity of national groups, a 
naive application of this principle could disastrously antagonize the 
opposing peoples where real differences of interests are involved? 
As Sorokin has stated, "There is another doubtful point, namely, the 
belief that the more truth men obtain in their information about human 
affairs, the more beneficial will be its role. In spite of the popularity of 
such a rationalist opinion, one may doubt it. If every man or group 
knew exactly what other men really have in mind and what is really 
happening in the world, the animosity, hatred, war, and conflicts would 
scarcely be decreased. If many present conflicts due to imaginary 
animosity would have disappeared in this case, other ones, due to a 
knowledge of the hidden animosity unknown now, would have taken their 
place." 1 Nonetheless, in spite of the intensified conflicts that sometimes 
ensue from widened popular communication, it is likewise true that 
understanding on an international scale has resulted at other points. 
There the numerous and growing international organizations have real 
scope, as, for example on questions of slavery, child welfare, the relief 
of suffering resulting from catastrophe, and the like. Interchange of 
thought in universalizing certain principles made this possible. The 
methods of communication have so developed that any kind of inter- 
national organization is possible in so far as the attitudes of divergent- 
culture peoples permit. 

Interests and loyalties were once local, regional and based upon 
isolated units. The stranger, the outsider, the alien-culture element were 
viewed askance. Incorporation in the local group was a slow and tedious 
process. In a New England churchyard is a headstone put there by the 
neighbors of a dead man. On it is inscribed "He lived among us bixty 
years, and, though a stranger, we loved him well." Increased communi- 
cation makes possible many types of association reaching beyond the 
local community. From the development of printing onward, man was 
partly released from the local and the immediate, for printing was not 
long monopolized by special classes. Innumerable organizations baaed 
upon a common interest were created, crossing local, regional and finally, 

1 Sorokin, P., Contemporary Sociological Theories, p. 709, 1928. Reprinted by 
permission of Harper & Brothers. See also Clark, C. N., Unifying the World, pp. 


national boundaries. These interest groups vary from international 
organizations of a political, economic or class interest to an association of 
stamp collectors. Not only have special interests been organized, but 
attention areas of the newspaper reader or radio listener are constantly 
widened. The materials he selects from his attention areas, however, are 
largely determined by his interests and attitudes which to a considerable 
extent are still the product of community or local cultures. Hence, he 
may be primarily concerned with the incidental, ephemeral, anecdotal, 
personal and human interest items that these attitudes dictate. And in 
the newspaper, radio and newsreels the supply meets the demand. 1 And 
the very multiplicity of these contacts may weaken reflective thought. 
As Lewis Mumford has written: 

The lapse of time between expression and reception had something of the 
effect that the arrest of action produced in making thought itself possible . , . 
a series of inventions began to bridge the gap in time. . . . What will be the 
outcome? Obviously, a widened range of intercourse; more numerous contacts; 
more numerous demands on attention and time. But unfortunately, the 
possibility of this tj r pe of immediate intercourse on a worldwide basis does not 
necessarily mean a less trivial or less parochial personality. For over against 
the convenience of instantaneous communication is the fact that the great 
economical abstractions of writing, reading and drawing, the media of reflective 
thought and deliberate action, will be weakened. 2 

Interest groups and attention areas have expanded beyond the local 
scene, but the interests and items attended to are still largely dominated 
by the values of the community. And the very plethora of such fare 
inhibits development of other attitudes in the individual. 

It is frequently charged that local variations, not only in elements of 
material culture, but in ideas, attitudes and expressed opinion, have 
been greatly decreased by general communication. Implicit in this 
assertion is the idea that a dead level of mediocrity tends to supplant 
desirable local variations. It is apparent that standardization of elements 
of material culture, clothing, housing, food and the innumerable " gadg- 
ets/' gewgaws and knickknacks of our civilization, has gone on apace. 
Elements of nonmaterial culture, language, anecdotes, legends and 
innumerable other elements, are likewise more uniform over large areas. 
And what of opinions? These, too, it is said, have rapidly become much 
more alike, molded by the mass agencies of communication, chains of 
newspapers, periodicals with circulation in the millions and national 

1 Lasswell, op. cit. t Chap. 9. 

Chapin, F. S., Contemporary American Institutions^ Chap. 1, 1935. 
1 Mumford, L., Technics and Civilization, pp. 239, 240, 1934. Quoted by per- 
mission of Harcourt, Brace & Company. 


broadcasting chains. Variations based upon local isolation arc being, 
rapidly effaced. 

Several points are frequently lost sight of in such discussions. These 
are: (1) the use of variations of opinion based upon membership in 
interest groups transcending the local scene, which groups, as we have 
seen, have proliferated enormously; (2) the interaction in the larger 
scene, permitting the injection of more varied elements in the opinion 
process; (3) the question of how much real diversity in local opinion 
existed (for was it not largely based upon similar small community 
experience?); (4) the fact that opinion is affected, not only by the mass 
agencies of communication, but also by interests and attitudes based 
upon political, economic, and religious variations which often have a 
regional, if not local, variation. For example, how effective were the 
newspapers and Democratic mass propaganda when they ran counter 
to the religious prejudices of the South in the Smith-Hoover election? 
Variation remains, but it is based much more upon choice and interest 
than upon the chance of local position. If such variations are decreasing 
and a pervasive uniformity appearing, the change is due, not to the 
methods of communication, but to a lack of organization of interest 
groups. To be sure, in large political areas of the world today, such 
groups are forcibly restrained from organizing. 

The growth of mass communication was accompanied by the rise 
of organized groups bent upon affecting the opinions of the larger publics. 
First, organized religion, threatened with growing dissent, censored and 
propagandized. Then states, whose governing groups felt endangered, 
increasingly controlled the newspapers and pamphleteering in the 
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Today, the press and other media 
of communication are absolutely controlled in Japan, Italy, Germany and 
elsewhere. In the nineteenth century, economic groups developed 
advertising and sometimes acquired policy control of newspapers .and 
periodicals. Then interest groups, more and more dependent upon the 
support of large publics, entered publicity, advertising and propagan- 
distic activities. Toward the close of the nineteenth century, various 
cliques, blocs, reform groups and special pleaders of many kinds began 
highly organized attempts to manipulate communication. Of course, 
interest groups have always sought to influence the opinion of larger 
publics, but a truly revolutionary change has come in the development of 
organized methods. 

In tribal society, the individual was limited to his personal experi- 
ences, the oral tradition and wisdom of his fellows and the local culture. 
With the development of pictorial forms, he could enter somewhat more 
vividly into certain experiences of his kind. Writing and printing 
provided the thought of men long dead, never seen or far distant in space. 


Limited at first to folk material and institutional pronouncement, printing 
rapidly became more diversified in content. Individual memoirs, intro- 
spective analysis, unusual experiences were recounted. There were 
always limitations; the informal censorship of the mores was operative, 
when more formal, restrictions did not exist. But a more varied collec- 
tion of materials gradually developed. The individual, through vicarious 
experience, could now range far in time and in the varieties of human 
experience. Children shrill and squirm with emotional excitement at 
the action portrayed on screen or radio hour to an extent not usually 
accompanying reading. The psychologist records the emotional excite- 
ment of an adolescent boy solemnly viewing the screen version of The 
Feast of Ishtar. The shop girl carries her copy of True Stories to her hall 
bedroom. Vicarious experience is also more vivid in many of those 
fields in which large publics express opinions. No one really knows 
the effects of war pictures upon popular attitudes; of the partly fictional 
March of Time upon opinions; of a cowboy picture upon the Samoans; 
of Mussolini's air fleet in review upon an English cinema audience. But 
vicarious experience has been popularized and made vivid. Where once 
the imaginative and highly literate were selectively affected, great masses 
of people now experience a buzzing confusion of newspaper, motion- 
picture and radio stimuli, which provide vicarious experience that some- 
times satisfyingly titillates, thrills and emotionalizes but again frightens 
and makes uneasy. 

The rapid transfer of culture forms, both material and nonmaterial, 
from one group or class to another and from one culture to another has 
been made possible by easy communication and transportation. Change 
was accelerated; fashion, style and fad increased their tempo. Static 
societies were in large part static because of the absence of easy mass 
communication. The individual attitudes and psychological factors 
encouraging rapid fashion change are themselves a product of the cultural 
situation that permits it. Communication is responsible for the enlarge- 
ment of the area over which a fashion may spread and for the accelerated 
tempo of fashion change. Kroeber has quantitatively shown thB 
increased speed of change in women's styles from 1844 to 1919. l The 
invention of new forms is likewise stimulated. Communication between 
inventors informs, accelerates, lessens duplication of effort and increases 
the probability of quickly bringing together the elements necessary 
for a new creation. Elements of nonmaterial culture, language forms, 
songs, literature, dances, games, as well as theories of all kinds, have 
likewise spread more rapidly over wider areas. Anthropologists have 
maintained that, in general, material elements are diffused more readily 

1 Kroeber, A. L., "On the Principle of Order in Civilization as Exemplified by 
Change in Fashion/ 1 Am. Anthro., 21: 235-263. 


than nonmaterial elements. At many points of contact of modern cul- 
tures this would be a questionable thesis. Ideas, programs, types of 
organization and opinions now spread v5iy rapidly indeed. Leaders 
more rapidly acquire popular prestige, symbols are more quickly learned, 
interaction is stimulated, the opinion process accelerated. 

Owing to modern communication, as we have seen, the individual's 
attention areas have widened, his memberships in interest groups involv- 
ing certain opinions have increased, most elements of his culture change at 
a more rapid tempo and the blatant stimuli demanding his attention have 
enormously multiplied. To what extent can he intelligently deal with 
such multiplicity and complexity? In many discussions of this point, it 
is apparently assumed that there is a widespread popular attempt to 
arrange these thronging stimuli into neat and logically coherent patterns. 
The intellectual demands such patterns and constantly projects his 
wishes. But man in the mass, although intermittently confused, baffled 
and frustrated, can usually project his own provincial attitudes upon this 
wider world of discourse and find no incongruity. Capacity to com- 
partmentalize experience is apparently quite elastic. And a hurried, 
touch-and-go and incomplete contact with some fragment of information, 
some superficially experienced emotional response or some hasty action 
based upon rapidly changed symbols is not necessarily alien to the man 
on the street. His education and culture have trained him to respond 
thus to the flood of urgent suggestions. His experience and training have 
made him essentially anti-intellectualistic. He is not persistently harried 
by the need for consistency, logical patterns or rational relations. 


The discreet and effective showing up of revered prejudices, including 
the sacred dogmas of all the frantic simplifiers of human riddles, should be 
at least one of the main precautions to be taken in our efforts to make a 
good man out of a college boy. 1 

A great deal of the newer learning in the social sciences, especially 
of psychological knowledge as interpreted to large student groups, has 
tended to remove much of the dignity and significance of human life. 
The better social scientists have the dignity of the quest for knowledge. 
But the expositors and teachers of their findings, in providing popular 
guides to knowledge, have interpreted in such a way as constantly to 
lessen man's significance. The intellectual has revolted wildly from 
nineteenth-century intellectualism. Depreciation of our physical world 
in terms of a widening universe, the contrasting of nineteenth-century 
rationalism with man's persistent irrationality, the elevation of the instinc- 
tive life, the lauding of physical force arid a flight from reason, and the 
purveying of a pseudoscientific psychological and psychoanalytic jargon 
are characteristic of our time. At the beginning of this century, psy- 
chological reality demanded the combating of the nineteenth-century 
intellectualistic assumption that human behavior resulted from a logical 
intellectual process. This clearing away of an intellectual myth was 
accomplished with a vigor that, by the second decade of the century, 
had become a questionably spirited attack and, apparently, in some cases 
evidenced an irresponsible intellectual abandon. The content of this 
chapter must inevitably emphasize many forms of irrational thinking. 
However, we should not gather the impression that all popular opinion is 
based upon illogical thinking. The common man as a member of large 
publics may often be motivated by irrational impulses; he may respond 
to slogans and symbols; on public occasions he often experiences emotional 
11 thrill" to his own betrayal; he persistently follows the personal leader 
while losing sight of the issue. As a member of a large public or group he 
may often be silly and absurd, but sometimes he desires not to be. 

Although generalizations about the processes of thought may be 
abstracted in psychological theory, thinking about thinking is usually 
most fruitful when the thought processes and the subject matter of 

1 Robinson, J. H., The Human Comedy, p. 334, 1937. 



thought are considered concomitantly. Much of the psychological 
process may not be generalized into universal verities. The materials 
of a particular culture determine the content of the mind and also, to some 
extent, the ways of the mind. The cultural anthropologist and the 
sociologist are peculiarly aware of this fact. The psychologist, in his 
preoccupation with the organism, has often been neglectful of the ways in 
which it is conditioned by culture. As yet there is no highly developed 
science of comparative psychology. Yet psychological study in divergent 
cultures has given insights on some relations between culture content and 
psychological processes. This has been most dramatically indicated in 
the ill-developed field of the psychology of primitive peoples. 1 Percep- 
tion is determined in part by what is to be perceived. There are char- 
acteristic directions of attention: an Apache of the original culture and a 
contemporary Chicago Y.M.C.A. dweller would attend to quite different 
elements in an Arizona landscape. Social factors modify the processes 
of memory as well as the materials remembered. This may be illus- 
trated by primitive practices in remembering numbers, as compared with 
the memory practices of one equipped with the Arabic numeral system ; 
by the memory of design as illustrated by interpretation of design 
sketches; 2 by the voluminous experimental psychology of memory in 
witnesses; and in many other fields. Yet only a small minority of 
psychologists have ever considered these important conditionings of 
mental processes. Indeed, one psychologist recently wrote, " Nowhere in 
the literature of psychology is memory action treated as an intimate mode 
of response to very specific features of the person's actual surroundings 
(persons, events and conditions)." 3 Ways of thinking have latterly been 
ascribed somewhat more to cultural influences. For example, it has long 
been noted that primitive peoples usually think in terms of objects, situa- 
tions and specific events rather than in terms of abstractions. The 
ability to recognize uniformities among apparent diversities is more 
characteristic of some groups of modern man. This difference was once 
ascribed to differences in quality of mentality. But in those areas of 
thought where abstract thinking prevails, modern man is guided, not only 
by the tradition of abstract thinking, but also by the accumulated abstrac- 
tions of past generations. It now appears that the direction of attention 
and various aspects of the cultural life are primarily involved in determin- 
ing thought processes. 4 

l See Sherif, M., The Psychology of Social Norms, 1936; Bartlett, F. C., Remem- 
bering, 1933. 

1 A contemporary London dweller interprets a sketch of a hand pointing upward 
as an antiaircraft gun; Bartlett, op. cit., p. 244. 

Kantor, J. R., Principles of Psychology, vol. II, p. 116, 1926. 

4 Cf. Thomas, W. I., Primitive Behavior, pp. 772 ff., 1937; Klineberg, O., Race 
Differences, 1935; with L6vy-Bruhl, L., Primitive Mentality, 1923. 


The ways in which individuals perceive, remember and think are 
determined in part by characteristics common to organisms, in part by 
individual differences and in part by cultural factors. Among the cul- 
tural factors are the traditional elements acquired in folk and group 
experience and those acquired from the professional thinker. Both 
types are involved in popular opinion. Let us illustrate. Thinking 
in American publics is in part conditioned by the background of American 
folk experience, as in the relation between man and nature in the conquest 
of the continent. Many of our dominant attitudes were developed in 
relation to this struggle. The pioneer, struggling with an adverse 
physical environment, must devote himself to the solution of his problems 
of adjustment to that environment. 1 He cannot preoccupy himself with 
psychological nuances, introspective analyses, aesthetic values, and the 
like. The frontiersman was not intellectual, not glibly skeptical, not a 
controversialist on aesthetic values. Characteristically, he was not 
flexible, he did not adjust well with human beings. In America today, 
as human action deals more with human beings and less with physical 
environment, we are undergoing a necessary modification of cultural 
values and individual attitudes. The individual's capacity for flexible 
adjustment must be increased. The influence of the frontier is but one 
of numerous uniquely American experiences that have determined, not 
only a part of American traditional thought, but also the ways of per- 
ceiving, remembering and thinking. 2 But, of course, both the content 
and processes of thought are modified, not only by experiences within 
the immediate culture and its recent history, but also by the general 
history of thought. 3 The results of the American experience are incorpo- 
rated into a larger framework of the history of popular thought of western 
civilization. In the last four centuries the powerful currents of secular- 
ism, Protestantism, rationalism, liberalism and democracy have stirred 
the common man. Professional thinkers develop techniques of thinking. 
These, in garbled form, are incorporated in popular thought. Prof. G. 
Boas notes that our new ways of thinking may be contrasted with the 
ways of the past in: (1) the shift from Aristotelian logic to an acceptance 

1 See, notably, Turner, F. J., The Frontier in American History, 1920. 

1 The ways in which concepts are formed and also the problems of abstraction 
usually have received philosophic, rather than psychological, treatment. The limited 
experimental approach of the psychologists is illustrated by: Fisher, S. C., "The 
Process of Generalizing Abstraction and Its Product, The General Concept/' PsychoL 
Mon. t 21: 2 (1916); Hull, C. L., "Quantitative Aspects of the Evolution of Concepts," 
PsychoL Mon., 28: 1 (1920); Kuo, Z. Y., "A Behavioristic Experiment in Inductive 
Inference," Jour. Ed. PsychoL, 6: 247-293 (1923); Smoke, K. L., "An Objective 
Study of Concept Formation," PsychoL Mon. 42: 4 (1931). 

* On American thought as influenced by literary history, see. notably, Pamnztou, 
V. L. Main Currents in American ThouahL 3 vols.. 


of statistics as explaining the facts of the world, (2) the substitution of a 
living principle of growth for mechanical impact, as a cause of change, 
(3) the present conception of the world as unified and stabilized by means 
of the instruments and techniques of observation. 1 When popular 
thought follows parts of the techniques of the professional thinker, it is 
usually betrayed by its own oversimplifications of these processes. 
This is well illustrated in popular pseudoscience. 

If the differences between cultures condition the individual members 
and modify ways of thinking, class and group differences may partially 
isolate their members from one another. If the class or group has 
developed an ideology, its members may be partly insulated from repre- 
sentatives of other classes, not only by their interests, but also by their 
ways of thinking. Communication is made difficult. Their divergent 
use of words and other symbols, differences in emotional conditionings, 
and the like, make impossible the creation of a common opinion. They 
may differ, not only in the use of symbols and in information and knowl- 
edge, but also, and more fundamentally, in ways of thinking. 

We shall consider certain processes characteristic of the development 
of opinion in the larger groups and publics. Stereotyping, the relations 
between emotions and opinions, personification, rationalization, opinion 
and the unconscious, conditioning and memory, in the members of large 
publics, are the more important psychological processes relating to 
opinion formation in such groups. In a sense, it is much easier to isolate 
the principal psychological processes common to individuals as members 
of groups than it is to organize the more varied and diverse psychological 
processes of an individual in his total experience. Social psychology 
should be making rapid strides in collecting data and generalizing. 


There is a persistent tendency of the human mind to provide concrete 
illustrations of abstractions and to confer a greater reality than is 
warranted upon its own conceptions and perceptions. Although present 
in many types of thinking, it is especially characteristic of popular 
thought, that is, of the subject matter of thinking characteristic of 
individuals as members of large publics. This tendency has sometimes 
been called "reification." 2 Instances of reification common to the mem- 
bers of large publics often become so psychologically "rear' as to be devel- 
oped into rigid preconceptions or patterns of perception. Woodard has 

1 Boas, G., Our New Ways of Thinking, 1930. 

1 From Plato onward this tendency has been known to philosophers. It has 
recently been given sociological orientation in: Woodard, J. W., Reificaiion an$ 
Supematuralism as Factors in Social Rigidity and Social Change, The Sociological 
Press, Hanover, N. H., 1935. 


indicated four types of reification. (1) The conceptual is taken as the 
perceptual. "Examples of it are the reality and power given to names 
by primitive peoples and young children; conceptual realism in science; 
philosophic idealism; the failure to remember the fictional character of 
methodological fictions in science and philosophy." 1 (2) The relational 
is taken as if it had an existence. This may be illustrated by the con- 
ceptions of mana among primitives; by children's conceptions of relation- 
ships as absolutes; by the adult's acceptance of ethical statements of 
good and evil as absolutes, rather than as relative to cultural needs and 
situations. 2 (3) The quite nonexistent is given existence. "The hal- 
lucinations, emotionalized projections, and delusions of insanity, with 
relation to which the individual lacks insight" 3 ; the personification of 
gods and demons; the personification of abstractions, and the like, are 
illustrations of this tendency. (4) The subjective is taken as the objec- 
tive. What is subjectively very real may be taken as if it were objectively 
real. Primitive magic is a case in point. Popular legends about living 
persons cause large publics to respond in this way. Although the 
individual develops his own reifications, we are here concerned with those 
which he acquires in the principal groups of his culture. Thus, in public 
opinion, the symbols of the flag, cross, altar, elephant and donkey, the 
projecting of corporations as personalities and hundreds of other con- 
cretions reify the fundamental institutions. 

Another fundamental tendency of the thinking of the members of 
large publics is "simplification." Perhaps this is too common and well 
known to require illustration. On public issues the "pictures in our 
heads" are simplifications of reality. Indeed, it could not be otherwise. 
"For the attempt to see all things freshly and in detail, rather than as 
types and generalities, is exhausting, and among busy affairs practically 
out of the question." 4 Moreover, as the attention areas of modern man 
widen, he acquires more and more of these simplifications. These are 
the psychological basis of popular action. They may diverge very far 
from objective reality. In a society where the facts of interaction are 
comparatively uncomplicated, these simplifications may be essentially 
accurate. When the facts of human society were simple, it was possible 
to simplify them still further without disastrous consequences. Proverbs, 
simple images and folk wisdom were adequate guides to behavior. 
But in a society of increasing complexity in fundamental social relations, 

1 Ibid., p. 9. 

1 Ibid., p. 10. This tendency to make codes of morals rigid has caused many 
responses that are functionally destructive. Prof. G. Boas, op. cit., p. 31, has written, 
"The only reason why the race has survived morality is, I imagine, that few have 
done more than attempt to make others practice it/' 

* Ibid., p. 10. 

'Lippmann, W., Public Opinion, p. 88, 1922, 


the gap between simple popular conceptions and objective reality widens. 
Yet the demand for simplicity persists as publics increase in size and the 
items attended to multiply. Large publics cherish the simple definition, 
the summarized conception, the simple melodrama of human relations, 
a phrase, a personified conception, and the like. 

The popular stereotype is based upon these two basic psychological 
tendencies to reification and simplification. " Stereotypes" are precon- 
ceptions acquired from the culture; those reifications and simplifications 
which are current in large groups. 1 The individual also develops his own 
simplifications. For example, a literary critic heads the chapters of a 
volume: G. B. Shaw, "The Naughty God"; Sinclair Lewis, "The Anti- 
Elk"; Rex Beach, "Open at The Neck"; G. K. Chesterton, "A Para- 
doxical Blimp"; and the like. 2 These are personal characterizations. 
However, if Sinclair Lewis came to be generally referred to by literate 
Americans as the "Anti-Elk," that would be a stereotype. 

If the individual's reifications and simplifications often diverge widely 
from objective reality, those collective representations and stereotypes 
which are bandied about in large publics may be even more erroneous. 
If sense perceptions are often so little determined by objective fact (as 
has been established by an extensive experimental psychological litera- 
ture), the representations or stereotypes acquired from the cultural 
definitions are often even greater distortions of objective reality. And, 
obviously, conscious distortion and manipulation of these channels are 
widely practiced today. Publicity, propaganda, advertising and all 
kinds of special pleading are sometimes avowed, often concealed. 

The stereotypes are conventional labels. These labels consist of 
words, phrases and language forms, of images and pictorial symbols. 
They are acquired from the language itself and from all means of com- 
munication. As Lippmann has stated, "For the most part we do not first 
see, and then define, we define first and then see. . . . We are told about 
the world before we see it. We imagine most things before we experience 
them. And these preconceptions, unless education has made us acutely 
aware, govern deeply the whole process of perception." 8 But true state- 
ments about complicated issues, about groups of people or races or 
nationalities or about organizations and social classes cannot be summed 
up in a few words or a simple picture. The theory of relativity popularly 

1 The term "stereotype" was brought into use among American writers by Mr. 
Walter Lippmann, in his Public Opinion. This concept had long been common to 
philosophical thought. The English sometimes write of "tabloid thinking" (see 
Thouless, R. H. f Straight and Crooked Thinking, Chap. 7, 1932). 

Hamilton, C., People Worth Talking About, 1933. 

'Lippmann, op. cit., pp. 81, 90. By permission of The Macmillan Company, 


expressed as " everything is relative"; the complicated ideology of evolu- 
tion appearing as "the monkey theory"; war guilt glibly ascribed to the 
"Hun"; and either verbal or pictorial representations about capitalists, 
Nazis, Bolsheviks, Jews, labor, nationalities, the clergy and the gangster, 
distort the objective reality as it is preconceived in the mind. The 
stereotypes also motivate behavior toward the proponents of these 
theories and toward groups and classes. Stereotypes may be counter- 
feits of reality. 

Of course, stereotyping is psychologically inevitable in thinking and in 
memory. The stereotypes provide the symbols of discourse. They are 
the postulates of popular discussion. And "the popular controversialist 
has indeed a serious complaint against those who do not accept the tab- 
loids of thought ordinarily current, because these are the agreed postulates 
for popular discussion." 1 They provide consistent practical attitudes 
motivating action toward ideas, objects and people. Especially in 
times of popular emotional excitement, anyone who blurs the stereotypes 
is suspect. The enemy must be simply defined; and the stereotypes of 
the cause, party, class or group may be emotionally defended. It is 
difficult to grasp even the essentials of a complex situation, and members 
of large publics have not the psychological equipment with which to do 
so. In addition, there is widespread lack of the mental vigor and activity 
required to deal with a multifarious reality. Further, these simplifica- 
tions may be easily remembered and transmitted. The individual 
acquires thousands of stereotypes from many sources in his culture. 
Some of these constantly motivate, others are definitions infrequently 
called upon. If he discards one set of stereotypes, he acquires another. 

Some of the more effective stereotypes are images of persons who stand 
for classes and types. These have been experimentally tested in several 
simple studies. Rice presented nine photographs to 141 students, who 
were informed that they were photographs of a premier, a labor leader, 
an ambassador, a governor, a bootlegger, and the like. The appearance 
of each of the men in the photographs was striking, and they differed 
greatly from one another. The students indicated a definite stereotyped 
conception of what the appearance of a labor leader, Bolshevik or banker 
would be. 2 It is surprising that social psychology has not presented an 
extensive experimental literature on this subject, but, so far, Rice's sug- 
gestive study has not been elaborated. We shall discuss the problem 
of language stereotypes in a following chapter on Language and Public 

1 Thouless, op. dt., p. 131. 

1 Rice, S. A., Quantitative Methods in Politics, Chap. 5, 1928. Another study of 
stereotypes was conducted by Litterer, 0. F. f "Stereotypes," Jour. Soc. Psychol., 4: 



There may be some innate basis for sociability, association and 
psychological preoccupation with persons. Whether this is true or not, 
it is obvious that the individual experiences people from the earliest 
days of life. That the human mind, therefore, should come to think per- 
sistently in personal terms, whenever it is not trained to think abstractly, 
is not surprising. Very early in life we evidence this personification in 
thought. The common experience of "imaginary conversation " in the 
psychological process of early childhood indicates the need to think in 
dialogue. 1 This early tendency of thought is later modified by the 
acquiring of other ways of thinking, but a large residue of personifications 
exists in every human mind. Of course, "people differ much in the vivid- 
ness of their imaginative sociability. The more simple, concrete, dra- 
matic, their habit of mind is, the more their thinking is carried on in terms 
of actual conversation with a visible and audible interlocutor/' 2 The 
common man of large publics, either lacking in adequate data on which 
to form opinions or intellectually incapable of doing so, nonetheless 
develops opinions on these issues. These opinions are often based upon 
his personifications of the issues, his assumption of the personal symbols. 
It is precisely on some of the most complex issues of human association, 
issues puzzling to the abstract thinker of every age, that the common man 
provides the greatest wealth of personifications. These he dogmatically 
and stubbornly defends. 

As large publics have successively turned their attention to a con- 
sideration of religious, political and economic phenomena, simplifications 
and personifications have proliferated in those fields. Personifications 
of the supernatural appeared in the conceptions of anthropomorphic 
gods and devils. The history of the devil is an interesting study of the 
successive personifications of evil. Ethical concepts have been pre- 
sented in legendary figures, allegories, morality plays, and the like. 
Nature was early personified. Justice, liberty, law and a hundred 
abstractions are personified in folk art. Political power has been noto- 
riously personified. The economic process is largely translated into 
personified terms by the common man, with his beliefs as to what Morgan, 
Rockefeller, Ford, John L. Lewis and others "could do" to solve the 
economic problems. Groups are also personified. As Prof. Cooley 
noted, "The sentiment by which one's family, club, college, state or 
country is realized in his mind is stimulated by vague images, largely 
personal . . . the impulse which we feel to personify country, or anything 

1 For an incisive discussion of this tendency see Cooley, C. H., Human Nature 
and the Social Order, Chap. 3, 1902. 
* Ibid., p. 95. 



else which awakens strong emotion in us, shows our imaginations to be so 
profoundly personal that deep feeling almost inevitably connects itself 
with a personal image." 1 In personification, publics name and provide 
personal symbols for abstractions, concepts, sentiments, and the like. 2 
The orator, popular artist, cartoonist and other special pleaders become 
experts in manipulating these personified symbols. Of course, general 
publics do objectify and depersonalize certain sectors of the subject 


Age in years 












A * 




























Percentages : 

Characters from im- 


19 9 

43 4 


?7 3 

26 1 

16 3 

13 9 

13 ? 

13 3 

11 Q 


mediate environ- 

-"" j + 

46 5 

72 1 


48 7 

44 3 

42 1 

43 4 

40 3 

40 7 

45 7 



Historic and public 


























Characters from 


























Characters from 



















































*IIilJ, D. S., "Personification of Ideals by Urban Children," Jour. Soc. Psychol., 1: 382. Permission 
to reproduce granted. 

matter to which they attend, but the resultant objectifications and 
abstractions never arouse the same group loyalties and warm emotional 
responses that accompany the personified symbol. Auguste Comte 
advised his disciples to create a visual image of Humanity in the form of 
the remembered figure of some known or loved woman. Personification 
is psychologically inevitable. It provides concrete, direct and simple 
mental content. 

Some personifications are individually unique or are provided within 
the primary group, but the majority are provided from the general 
culture. There has been little systematic study of the personifications 
common to large groups, although the process is frequently noted. From 
a recent questionnaire study of 8813 school children, a social psychologist 

1 Ibid., pp. 113, 114. Quoted by permission of Charles Scribner's Sons. 
1 Pareto, V., The Mind and Society (English trana.), vol. II, pp. 636 ff. t 1935. 


has adduced some generalizations. 1 He found that the largest number of 
personifications of ideals were selected from historic and public characters 
and that each year from eight to fifteen years of age these are increasingly 
important to the individual. These characters from remote environ- 
ment are more important in the choices of the boys than of the girls. 
Personifications from the immediate environment (relatives, acquain- 
tances, teachers, and the like) account for 34 per cent of the choices and 
decrease steadily in importance as the child grows older. Table III 
summarizes the results. This is an interesting though simple and frag- 
mentary study. 

Personification is a fundamental type of folk thinking. The tendency 
to desire simple explanations and descriptions is a universal human trait 
exhibited by large publics. In every period, man has exhibited the 
tendency to ascribe complex social processes to simple causes and explana- 
tions. If these simplifications can be cast in personal terms, they are 
even more readily acceptable to large publics. Therefore, masses are 
conditioned to respond to these personal symbols. We shall discuss the 
process in greater detail in later chapters on The Leader and Personal 
Symbolism and on Legends and Myths. 

Although the process of personification in thinking is very simple and 
the ways in which folk personifications are acquired are quite obvious, 
it is by no means easy to substitute one personification for another, as 
many a leader has discovered to his cost. The prevailing personifica- 
tions are emotionally defended, inasmuch as they provide the illusions of 
certainty and security for the common man. They may be changed, 
but they usually change slowly. Personifications once widely used in 
any large groups are usually not quickly supplanted by other symbols in 
the same field, though there are some notable exceptions. Nor do they 
suddenly disappear from general use. They are gradually outgrown and 
forgotten by a public with new and changing needs for simplification in 
other fields. 


The simple, clear-cut dichotomies of mind and matter and of reason 
and emotion are no longer satisfactory to the psychologist. The mind 
is viewed as part and parcel of the body, and bodily changes are con- 
sidered as they affect mental processes. The ways of thinking charac- 
terized as reason and emotion are not distinct entities motivating 
particular instances of behavior but exist in varying proportions in the 
different situations. Man is never exclusively, and usually not even 
essentially, a reasoning being. Feelings and emotions, likes and dislikes, 

1 Hill, D. S., "Personification of Ideals by Urban Children/' Jour. Soc. Psychol., 
1: 379-392. 


in varying degrees are component parts of every human situation. It 
is only for descriptive purposes that one may use the terms " reason" 
and "emotion." 

Emotions have been quite variously defined and catalogued. Some 
groups of psychologists have described emotions primarily in terms of 
changes within the organism. Emotions are sometimes described in 
behavioristic terms of stimulus-response. The extended arguments of 
this dispute are not of concern here. 1 Watson distinguished fear, rage 
and love as the essential emotions. These are elsewhere amplified as 
anger, rage, fear, terror, sexual love, maternal love, laughter emotions, 
grief, disgust, jealousy, delight, agony and many others. However 
designated, it is evident that visceral disturbances relating to each 
caption have not been isolated. They are not entities. 

Emotions, however they may be described and designated, are 
enormously significant in relation to the opinion process, in the fields of 
economics, politics, religion, education, and the like. Appeals, primarily 
to arouse emotional response, are made by the demagogue, public speaker, 
preacher, advertising man, and, indeed, by all those who reach large 
publics. People fear want, isolation, disease, death, unpopularity; and 
to the dread of these, as to many other fears, the public pleader fre- 
quently addresses himself. Theoretically the educator has faith in logic 
and avoids the emotional appeal. The propagandist, advertising man 
or demagogue has no such qualms. 

The stimulus to emotional response may be language, action, gesture 
or, indeed, any form of communication. A philosopher has recently 
differentiated between the permissible and (to him) not permissible use of 
communication to achieve such response. Poetry, romantic prose and 
emotional oratory are legitimate fields for emotional appeal; political 
or economic speeches should avoid emotionally tinged terms. He illus- 
trates emotional appeal in poetry. 

The use of emotionally toned words is not, of course, always to be condemned. 
They are always harmful when we are trying to think clearly on a disputable 
point of fact. In poetry, on the other hand, they have a perfectly proper place, 
because in poetry (as in some kinds of prose) the arousing of suitable emotions is 
an important part of the purpose for which the words are used. 

In the Eve of St. Agnes, Keats has written: 

"Full on this casement shone the wintry moon, 
And threw warm gules on Madeline's fair breast." 

These are beautiful lines. Let us notice how much of their beauty follows from 
the proper choice of emotionally colored words and how completely it is lost 

1 For summary discussions see Young, P. T., Motivation of Behavior t Chap, f, 
1936; Young, K., Social Psychology, Chap. 8, 1930. 


if these words are replaced by neutral ones. The words with strikingly emotional 
meanings are casement, giUes, Madeline, fair, and breast. Casement means simply 
a kind of window with emotional and romantic associations. Gules is the 
heraldic name for red, with the suggestion of romance which accompanies all 
heraldry. Madeline is simply a girl's name, but one calling out favorable 
emotions absent from a relatively plain and straight-forward name. Fair 
simply means, in objective fact, that her skin was white or uncolored a necessary 
condition for the colors of the window to show but also fair implies warm emo- 
tional preference for an uncolored skin rather than one which is yellow, purple, 
black or any of the other colors which skin might be. Breast has also similar 
emotional meanings, and the aim of scientific description might have been 
equally well attained if it had been replaced by such a neutral word as chest. 

Let us now try the experiment of keeping these two lines in a metrical form, 
but replacing all the emotionally colored words by neutral ones, while making as 
few other changes as possible. We may write: 

" Full on this window shone the wintry moon, 
Making red marks on Jane's uncolored chest. " l 

Regardless of what, in the abstract values of the philosopher, may be 
considered permissible, emotional appeals have played the major role in 
popular thought and opinion. Nor can the relation of emotion to mass 
opinion be adequately described by considering original tendencies, 
even if these could he adequately isolated. Regardless of the innate 
character of emotional responses in the young child, the attitudes of 
adults with their emotional components have been conditioned by a 
variety of human experiences. When large American publics harbor 
attitudes and express opinions indicative of desire for security, love of 
money, resentment at class privileges, pacifist sentiment, race prejudice, 
or a yearning for isolation, the cultural history provides the more 
adequate description of the development of their opinions. 

It is difficult to evaluate the relative importance of emotional responses'^ 
and of other factors on major public issues. 2 Emotional elements usually 
bulk large, for as Prof. Cooley has said, "the originality of the masses 
is to be found not so much in formulated idea as in sentiment. . . . The 
common people, as a rule, live more in the central current of human 
experience than men of wealth and distinction . . . some tendency to 
isolation and spiritual impoverishment is likely to go with any sort of 
distinction or privilege . . . the sentiment of people is most readily and 

1 Thouless, op. cit., pp. 16-18. Quoted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc. 

* For an excellent, though popularized, statement of emotion in mass movements, 
see Fiilop- Miller, R., Leaders, Dreamers and Rebels, 1935; contrast this with a shallow 
and unscholarly treatment in Denison, J. H., Emotional Currents in American History, 


successfully exercised in their judgment of persons/' 1 Sentiment and 
emotional response are frequently related to the major stimulus, the 
symbol of the person, word, slogan, place, object, ceremony, and the 
like. And the number and proportion of emotional appeals are multiplied 
as the publics increase in size. The popularization of a political program, 
economic doctrine or theological creed necessitates broad emotional 
appeals. Of American Methodism, an observer writes, "The advance 
of Methodism with its passionate propaganda, broadened and coarsened 
religious thought. The Methodists addressed themselves to the masses, 
and attempted to control their way of life. They may not have possessed 
the cultural traditions of New England, but they had the faculty of 
gripping the souls of the masses." 2 Excitement and emotional thrill, 
even of fear, if not too violent, is a pleasurable experience. Of course, 
popular emotional responses are of short duration, and successively 
stronger stimuli must be applied to retain the state. Hence, in wartime, 
in racial conflict or class struggles, increasingly crude and violent appeals 
usually appear as the struggle progresses. 

Various emotional feeling tones operate in the isolated individual 
stimulated by his own mental processes. Indeed, " the emotion following 
an ideational process may possibly be far more turbulent than one pre- 
ceded by a perceptual activity." 3 However, emotional responses are 
extraordinarily contagious and are much in evidence in group situations. 
Individuals, as members of crowds and large publics, are notoriously 
susceptible to emotional appeals. People are said to "lose their heads" 
in crowds. And as modern communication has increased the number 
and size of publics, the field of emotional appeals has widened. 

We may illustrate this in the widening areas of appeals to fear. 
Fear has always been important in modifying and developing funda- 
mental attitudes and opinions. In the simpler societies, fear is pervasive. 
"The great and primal dream, common to all the peoples of the earth, 
one which has troubled the mind of man since the dawn of his first 
beginnings, is an anxiety dream; for apprehension dominates the earliest 
and deepest strata of human thought and feeling; dread inspired by the 
vastness of the universe and by man's loneliness therein; dread of the 
mysterious, incalculable, capricious powers with which his imagination 
peoples the realms of space." 4 Ii} Western societies the Christian religion 
made its lurid appeals to fear. Jonathan Edwards said, "The bow of 
God's wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice 

1 Cooley, C. H., Social Organization, pp. 135, 136, 138, 142, 1909. Quoted by per* 
mission of Charles Scribner's Sons. 

8 Bonn, M. J., The American Adventure, p. 249, 1930. 

5 Kantor, op. cit., vol. II, p. 7. 

* FtilSp-Miller, op. cit., p. 8. Quoted by permission of The Viking Press, Ine 


bends ;the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing 
but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God, without any 
promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being 
drunk with your blood/' 1 However, fears of the supernatural abated 
with increasingly naturalistic descriptions of the universe. Through the 
late nineteenth century to the present, Western man, relieved somewhat 
of fear of the supernatural has assumed a host of new and intensified 
fears, insecurities and apprehensions. Decreasing fear of the universe 
has been accompanied by increasing fear of other men, of social classes 
and groups, of insecurity of status and, indeed, of the functioning of one's 
own organism. And the conscious manipulation of these fears is very 
much in evidence. That the advertising man has increasingly used fear 
appeals since 1920 is not merely a fashion in advertising. He fishes in 
troubled waters. "Scare copy" manipulates opinion as to insurance of 
one's possessions or economic future, as to the choice of dentifrices, anti- 
septics, tobacco, the best talcum powder for baby, an adequate mauso- 
leum for relatives, as to matters of social prestige and as to falling hair 
and a score of obscure and pscudoscientifically labeled ailments. Playing 
upon the fears and insecurities of large publics, modern demagogic dic- 
tators have aroused compensating aggressions against minority groups. 
Of the Nazis' tide of emotion, a correspondent has written, "It is a 
triumph of baiting, communist-baiting, Jew-baiting, free-thought- 
baiting, newspaper-baiting, sex-baiting (Let's clean up Germany), and 
superior-person-baiting (that above all)." 2 In the democracies, appeals 
to fear are more frequent as crises multiply. Fear is contagious, and 
popular action dominated by fear may be entirely illogical. Public 
opinion is profoundly affected by conscious appeals to fear. 


Human reason and logical thinking are constantly diverted into non- 
logical mental processes. "One recalls the argument of the German who 
insisted that stupid children make invincible soldiers, inasmuch as the 
gods themselves fight in vain against stupidity Gegen die Dummheit, 
streben die Gotter selbst umsonst. Human reason Luther compared to a 
drunken man on horseback: 'set it up on one side and it bumbles over 
on the other.'" 8 One of the ways in which individuals and groups fre- 
quently stray from logical thinking is by providing socially acceptable 

1 Quoted by Graves, W. B. (ed.), Readings in Public Opinion, p. 264, 1928. 

1 Bagnold, Enid, "Nazis Swept Along on Tide of Emotion," New York Times, 
June 18, 1933. 

8 Wallis, W. D., "Some Phases of the Psychology of Prejudice," /our. Abn. Soc. 
Psychol., 24: 4: 424. 


rather than real reasons for behavior. "Rationalization" is an ideal 
reconstruction of past behavior or thought. A belief or action is justified 
rather than explained. We search for the ostensibly good reason, a 
socially acceptable one. My pet dog is notoriously tame. If he bit 
the child, he did so because because because because. As rationali- 
zation is an unconscious process, it is difficult conclusively to designate 
rationalizations, as such, either by introspective analysis of one's own 
thinking or by assumptions with regard to the reasons provided by others. 
The term "rationalization" was applied to this kind of thinking by Dr. 
E. Jones, who, in 1908, defined it as "unconsciously fictitious justification 
for behavior." 1 A considerable proportion of discussion consists of 
explaining actions and intentions. And many of the explanations are 
rationalizations. "The result is that most of our so-called reasoning 
consists in finding arguments for going on believing as we already do." 2 
We have "good" reasons and "real" reasons. 

The process of rationalization is by no means limited to those capable 
of only the elementary forms of thought. Great thinkers have pro- 
pounded rationalizations which were afterward established and stand- 
ardized in popular thought. The philosopher's defense of slavery among 
the Greeks was a rationalization. Interest on capital as a reward for 
abstinence is a rationalization when applied to interest on 100 million 
dollars. In male-dominated cultures, the incapacities of the female 
and her psychological inferiorities are proclaimed by the best minds. The 
Bohemian has used Freudian psychology as a rationalization for relatively 
unbridled licentiousness. "Freud says inhibitions are dangerous; let 
us be very careful to get rid of our inhibitions." Pareto says that pro- 
fessional thinkers long underestimated the amount of nonlogical conduct 
in society, for if that were admitted it would be much more difficult for 
them to construct systematic theories of social interaction.* The 
Russian judge does not say that Soviet justice is social expediency. 
He says that it is real justice as distinguished from the false justice of the 
bourgeoisie. Indeed, quite generally, legal thinking includes numerous 
rationalizations. "It becomes more plain why the practice of law is 
often referred to as an 'art/ an art which cannot be taught rationally 
but must be grasped intuitively. Indeed the practice of law as now 
practiced is one of the major arts of rationalization." 4 It is clear that 
rationalization is pervasive in the thinking of the expert and professional 
thinker as well as in that of the common man. 

1 Taylor, W. S., "Rationalization and Its Social Significance," Jour. Aim. Soc. 
Paychol., 17: 410. 

Robinson, J. H., Mind in the Making, p. 41, 1921. 

Pareto, V., op. cit. t vol. I, p. 178. 

Frank, J., Law and the Modem Mind, p. 31, 1930. 


real motives of large groups are frequently disguised. The 
bulk of man's rationalizations of the social scene are acquired in the 
general culture. His opinions about other national groups, his foods, 
racial prejudices and class prejudices are enveloped in rationalizations. 
His extravagance becomes generosity, his party membership becomes 
loyalty, his lack of skepticisms becomes firm and noble conviction, and 
the like. One of the functions of successful leadership in large publics 
is the providing of many good, acceptable, and plausible rationalizations 
for the behavior of followers who are primarily motivated by other 
" reasons." Hitler has provided a wealth of rationalizations for middle- 
class followers who had strong racial prejudices, in part based upon 
envious and avid self-seeking. Modern wars are notoriously fought 
for other than avowed economic reasons ; civilize the brutal and barbaric 
Ethiopians; prevent the inroads of communism in China. Strong self- 
feeling, associated with beliefs and rationalizations, defends the self. 
" Passion and self interest may be our chief motives but we hate to admit 
the fact even to ourselves. We are not happy unless our acts of passion 
can be made to look as though they were dictated by reason, unless self- 
interest be explained and embellished so as to seem to be idealistic." 1 

The process is inevitable, persistent, and at many points rationaliza- 
tion is psychologically useful. It provides a defense against the exposure 
of socially undesirable motives and therefore maintains individual and 
group morale. Persistently to see oneself in the worst possible light is 
disintegrating. Groups, stripped of certain rationalizations, often look 
yearningly at the masquerades of their past. The reformer who would 
strip a society of some cherished rationalization should have something 
to offer in its stead. Society must be balanced, not chaotic. At best, 
a group can reconsider but a small sector of its beliefs at any one time. 


As each generation, or at least each intellectual age, must rewrite 
history in its own image, so, too, many psychological processes, long known 
to the thinker, must be renamed and labeled. Although the process 
now called " conditioning " has been experimentally described by Pavlov 
and the behaviorists, the association of two stimuli in evoking response 
in social behavior has long been a commonplace to the philosopher. 
Most readers are acquainted with the psychological experiments on 
conditioning. If two stimuli act simultaneously or successively on the 
nervous system and one stimulus evokes a definite response, that response 
will likewise come to be associated with the second stimulus. To be 
sure, the term " conditioning" has come to be widely used to describe 

1 Huxley, A., The Olive Tree, p. 16, 1937. 


types of associated stimuli and response when there is complete ignorance 
of the factors involved. 

In dealing with public opinion, orators and public speakers, editors 
and pamphleteers, preachers and revivalists and special pleaders of all 
sorts have been aware of such associations. They have conditioned 
emotional responses to words, proverbs, slogans and to stereotypes and 
symbols of many kinds by relating these items to known attitudes. Is 
mother love widespread? Relate its expression to "Say It With Flow- 
ers/' Is prolonged and detailed intellectual effort abhorrent to the 
common man? Relate this dislike to a simple formula of economic 
Utopia. Is popularity widely desired? Relate this to a hundred adver- 
tised ways by which it may be enhanced. Is the professor widely thought 
of as a doddering ineffectual? Relate this to the popular physical stereo- 
type of the doddering ineffectual in the cartoon, and the professor may be 
attacked. Does grinning, as an evidence of vitality and ebullient health, 
have a high evaluation in our culture? Chew chewing gum, and perhaps 
you will be as radiant as the gorgeous creature on the billboards. Such 
suggested associations condition modern man in many fields. 

Erroneous beliefs and opinions through untrue associations of stimuli 
have always motivated much of man's behavior. Today, in many 
quarters, we find much more conscious organization of these condition- 
ings than has previously been true. Totalitarian states, the advertising 
man, the demagogue, the popular editor, a great many motion-picture 
producers have every reason consciously to cultivate the irrational. In 
terms of many of their objectives, they have a real grievance against any 
group that interferes with their conditionings. 

Conditioning is a most significant process in social behavior and the 
building up of related attitudes and opinions. But it must not be sup- 
posed that the propagandist or advertising man can manipulate these 
stimuli at random. Quite the contrary. He has to deal at all times with 
the already existing attitudes. He may relate his flowers to mother love, 
but if he attempts to relate them to a gangster with a cauliflower ear 
(except at his funeral) the result will be a subject of humor. Emotional 
conditioning, however, permits of innumerable associations, even if there 
are some that cannot readily be made. "While thousands of reflexes 
are associated in a general way, those which are linked up through the 
emotions are the most persistent and dominant in the personality. 
This fact will be illustrated in our treatment of images, ideas, and atti- 
tudes, in patriotic and crowd behavior, in prejudice, in leadership, in 
fads and fashions, and in public opinion/' 1 In conclusion, it may be 
noted that in many instances of apparent emotional conditioning the 
responses to the two stimuli, although related, are by no means the same. 

1 Young, K., op. cit., p. 88. 


The resppnses to the girl of ihe cigarette advertisement are not the same 
as the responses to the cigarette. "The propagandist is interested in 
arousing certain pre-existing attitudes, not because their affective tone 
will be transferred to the desired integration, but because they will 
induce many individuals to perceive his stimulus situation." 1 These 
are not true conditionings in the original meaning of that term. 


Although the concepts "conscious" and "unconscious," just as 
"rational" and "irrational," have at times been placed in naively simple 
dichotomies, it is evident that there are certain aspects of the mental 
field that are more or less in immediate awareness. A great many 
physical actions, based on long-established habits, are carried on without 
the individual's immediate awareness of them. Gestures, walking from 
place to place, and the like, may be performed while conscious attention 
is otherwise occupied. In Charles Readers Cloister and the Hearth, one 
of the male characters, disguised as a woman, is in the public room of an 
inn. A guest, suspicious of the sex of this character, tosses a coin into 
"her" lap. From the spontaneous closing of the knees, he adduces that 
here is a man in disguise. There is a wide variety of such "unconscious" 
behavior. It is also evident that in the mental field there are relatively 
more or less conscious attitudinal sets. The term "conscious" may be 
applied to immediate awareness; "foreconscious" to the field from which 
the desired material may readily be summoned to the conscious (facts, 
names, dates, ideas, etc.); "unconscious" to the field from which material 
cannot readily be recalled at will. The unconscious cannot be directly 
probed introspectively. 

Violent controversy has developed between the psychoanalysts and 
other schools of psychology over the concept of the unconscious. A 
rsum6 of this controversy would lead us into a discussion of the follow- 
ing: the relative proportions of the mental field existing in the conscious 
and unconscious; the quarrel over the chance versus directly motivated 
transference of materials from the conscious to the unconscious; the 
dispute over whether or not the existence of materials in the unconscious 
may be adduced from indirect evidence obtained by the psychoanalyst; 
the accuracy of the interpretation of symbols by the psychoanalyst; 
other problems which, for lack of space, we may not discuss here. 

Our concern is with the part played by unconscious motivations in 
the public-opinion process. There are strong general attitudes which are 
relatively latent in the individual unconscious. That judgments on public 
issues and expressions of opinion are affected by these attitudes is a matter 
of common comment. Opinions in racial conflict may be modified by 

1 Doob, L. W., Propaganda, p. 122, 1935. 


prejudices of which the individual is not commonly aware, opinion 
responses to personality types are largely determined by attitudinal sets of 
which the individual is not conscious, and so on, in thousands of opinion 
situations. "Unconscious stimulation and the loss to consciousness of 
earlier stimulations must be reckoned with in describing and interpreting 
the social behavior of individuals. Especially are the emotional feeling- 
tones and attitudes carried through life in this nonconscious stream of 
activity. However we react to the theories of Freud, Jung, Prince, or 
others, the facts of dissociated unconscious attitudes and acts are at 
hand. 1 ' 1 We may disagree with the assumption of the psychoanalyst that 
the unconscious primarily contains repressed material (" repressed" as 
contrary to prevailing "good" values) and still admit the profound 
significance of the unconscious in group life, including public opinion. 
What is the basis of selection of the material existing in the uncon- 
scious? According to the psychoanalysts much of it is the product of 
what they, especially Jung and his followers, describe as the "collective 
unconscious." As the individually unique unconscious is conceived as 
the repository of the individual's forgotten experiences, so the collective or 
racial unconscious contains the early experiences of humanity incorporated 
in the unconscious of the person. They maintain that the great bulk of 
the materials of the unconscious has never been conscious so far as the 
given individual is concerned as he has inherited most of these materials. 
The psychoanalyst maintains that specific images, formulae, symbols 
and principles are thus inherited. These products of social-group 
experience are conceived of as hereditary. The psychoanalyst uses this 
theory to explain the content of myths and the persistence of symbolism, 
and at many other points. With this viewpoint we vigorously disagree. 
Such a hypothesis has not been demonstrated by the evidence. It has 
not been demonstrated that the individual harbors elements in the uncon- 
scious that he has not at some point consciously considered or absorbed 
unconsciously from his specific environment. 2 Moreover, the dominant 
theories of psychological inheritance would refute the psychoanalysts' 
hypothesis. Psychoanalytic interpretation of the popularity of the film 
The Three Little Pigs and the song "The Big Bad Wolf" assumes an 
unconscious identification of the little pigs' situation with the world 
crisis. 8 These are symbols of devouring danger and helpless insecurity 
identified by masses of people because there exists such symbolism in 
their "collective unconscious." This is absurd. This story was not 
unknown to the majority of people today. If, to some extent, these 

1 Young, K., op. dt., p. 173. Quoted by permission of F. 8. Crofts & Co., Inc. 
1 Bartlett, op. tit., p. 281. 

Klineberg, O., Race Differences, 1935. 
1 Analysis in Intercine, January, 1935, p. 34. 



animals did become symbols of a social situation, we do not need a 
hypothesis of a racially inherited collective unconscious to explain this 
very simple association. We reject the notion of a collective unconscious 
as inherited images, formulae, symbols, and the like. 

However, socially conditioned response systems based on the existing 
standards and values are developed in the individual. Within a culture, 
these are common to large numbers of persons. Incorporated in the 
individual's attitudinal sets, they determine opinions on many issues 
without a conscious consideration by that individual of the values 


To arrange the variety and complexity of human experience in intelli- 
gible terms, capable of classification and remembrance, the mind must 
create symbols. These symbols are a simplification and a concretion 
of a complex and sometimes abstract reality. Prof. Whitehead has 

defined symbolism as follows: "The human 
mind is functioning symbolically when 
some components of its experience elicit 
consciousness, belief, emotions, and usages, 
respecting other components of its experi- 
ence/' 1 Language, figures, images and 
other concretions provide classificatory sys- 
tems of referential symbols. Thinking in 
symbols is an inevitable basis for thought 
in common. When groups of phenomena 
are thus simplified into the symbol, we have 
artificially eliminated the variations in the 
world of experience. It is then possible to 
communicate readily as between individuals. 
A group symbol may be venerated and 
emotionally defended. Flags, historic 

c -^ spots, shrines and other symbols must be 


TrDiADAT,oNO,ASYMBou generally respected or their prestige is 
FIQ. 2. lowered. The cross is such a venerated 

symbol. Yet, recently, the fashions have 

decreed the wearing by young women of "streamlined crosses/' This 
fashion is illustrated by the advertisement reproduced in Fig. 2. Crosses 
as religious symbols and the crosses as simple designs for the adornment 
of the young female have a quite different functional significance. 

Not all symbols are common to groups. All individuals develop 
some individually unique symbols. The mentally aberrant person 

Whitehied, A. N., Symbolism, p. 7, 1927, 



creates symbols that are frequently unintelligible to those about him. 
Yet the legally sane individual may develop an unusual wealth of unique 
symbols. Examine the writings of John Cowper Powys. The psycho- 
analysts have constantly reiterated the importance of an understanding 
of the symbolic tendency of the mind. 1 However, the problems of indi- 
vidual symbolism do not concern us at this point. 

The stereotypes, personifications and other concretions of abstrac- 
tions and of groups are the symbols widely used in the popular-opinion 
process. Key words, phrases, slogans, songs, images, pictures, statues, 
flags become symbols common to large publics. All groups create and 
maintain a number of such symbols. In large groups, images are even 
more effective than words. "It is no doubt possible completely to sup- 
plant images as vehicles of thought by words or other conventional 
signs. Yet, when the major burden of significance is carried by symbols 
other than images, the latter usually arise in the process. In most minds 
significant imagery is never wholly absent. 772 The member of a large 
public or group usually understands but little of the theoretic and con- 
ceptual position of that group in social organization and process, but he 
can readily be conditioned to respond to its significant symbols. The 
symbolic objectification of abstractions in church and state are obvious. 
It is precisely at the points of greatest complexity and abstraction 
that the simplest and most concrete symbols are provided for popular 

A generation ago these symbols common to large groups were referred 
to by L6vy-Bruhl, Durkheim and others as " collective representations. 77 
These were thought of as "common to the members of a given social 
group," as "transmitted from one generation to another/' as "impressing 
themselves upon its individual members and awakening in them senti- 
ments of respect, fear, adoration, and so on. 773 These collective repre- 
sentations or symbols provide a system of reference and condense the 
diffuse and complex. Since these symbols so neatly and simply organize 
the thinking of those who use them, it is inevitable that they should be 
emotionally defended. And such is usually the case. As Clemenceau 
wrote, "Nothing is so contagious as a symbol, and, moreover, no one ever 
adopts one without attaching to it something of the virtue of a talis- 

1 The psychoanalysts' insistence on the frequency of the symbolic use of common 
objects of the environment may be illustrated by the items classified under symbolism 
in Inter. Jour. Psychoanalysis, index, vol. I-X. Under Symbolism we find listed: 
of clothes, of a camera, cigar, of an apparatus, of a pancake, of appendicitis, of a 
syringe, of baseball, of black gowns, of cigarettes, of fire, of graves, of Medusa, of pass- 
ing through a window, of stairs, of an automobile, of the button, of the cat, of the collar, 
of the house, of the nose, of the tree, etc. 

* Eaton, R. M., Symbolism and Truth, p. 11, 1925. 

1 Myerson, A., Social Psychology, p. 251, 1934, 


man." 1 ,. The symbols are related to favorable and unfavorable attitudes, 
and the manipulation of the symbols or collective representations often 
evokes powerful emotional responses in large publics. 

The use of symbols is common to organized social groups in all ages 
and in all types of culture development. Certain simple symbols of 
man, woman, serpent, moon, sun, earth, and the like, are so widespread 
among primitive groups and in preliterate mythology that some anthro- 
pologists, notably W. H. R. Rivers, have argued for a universal system 
of symbolization based on the psychic unity of mankind. 2 With this 
viewpoint we would disagree. 

In the more complex cultures there is a great difference in the quantity 
of symbols popularly used in various periods. "The slightest survey of 
different epochs of civilization discloses great differences in their attitude 
toward symbolism. For example, during the mediaeval period in Europe 
symbolism seemed to dominate men's imaginations. Architecture was 
symbolical, ceremony was symbolical, heraldry was symbolical. With 
the Reformation a reaction set in. Men tried to dispense with symbols 
as fond things vainly invented, and concentrated on their direct appre- 
hension of the ultimate facts." 3 In the democratic and Protestant 
nations of the West, there has undoubtedly been a decrease in the number 
of popular symbols in religion and government during the past century. 
Symbols of respect for rank, ceremonials, and the like, have been simpli- 
fied. The relation between the use of symbols and authoritarian control 
is clearly illustrated by the wealth of symbolism already created by the 
Fascist, Nazi and Communist states. We may note certain other 
relationships between the amount of symbolism and other aspects of the 
social process. (1) Symbolism flourishes in periods of well-integrated 
society, with an agreed underlying ideology. 4 (2) When the culture is 
complex, transitional and characterized by diverse definitions of the 
situation by various groups, symbolism develops in these groups, but the 
bulk of the symbols is not popularly diffused. (3) The development of 
symbolism, like other aspects of culture, arrives at a point where it pro- 
liferates and spreads over various human institutions. 

There is a vast amount of conscious organization and manipulation 
of symbols in Western culture today. There is little of the veneration 
of persistent symbols, such as existed in the Middle Ages, but there is a 
vast to-do about conditioning the members of large publics to respond 
to symbols of various groups. The blue eagle goes "from egg to earth." 

1 Clemenceau, G., In the Evening of My Thought, p. 321, 1929. 

2 See discussion in Bartlett, op. cit., pp. 288 ff. 

* Whitehead, op. cit., p. 1. By permission of The Macmillan Company, publishers, 
4 On symbolism in medieval thought, see: Dunbar, H. F., Symbolism in Mediaeval 
Thought, 1929; Sorokin, P., /Social and Cultural Dynamics, vol. 1, pp. 343 jf-> 614 #, 
1937; Silberer, H., Problems of Mysticism and Its Symbolism, 1917. 


The general staff members of Hitler's storm troops are given poly- 
phonous sirens for their automobiles. Others are forbidden to use them. 
Nazi political leaders have consciously propagated a wealth of symbolism. 
We think at once of the swastika, the salute, forms of address, the 
personal symbols of legend-evoking national heroes, the flags, the seals, 
anthems, uniforms, and the like. Other types of consciously propagated 
modern symbolism are to be found in advertising: its slogans, trade- 
marks, and pictorial symbols of various kinds; in consciously developed 
legends about living persons; in the conscious and organized manipula- 
tion of symbols by the leaders of clubs, lodges, luncheon clubs and a host 
of other groups. Leadership also cultivates the manipulation of a 
variety of pictorial symbols in the cartoon and poster and in motion 
pictures. With a wider knowledge of mass psychology, with new media 
of communication and with the size of publics increasing, modern leader- 
ship has become more conscious of the processes of symbol manipulation 
and better organized to create and distribute these symbols. A folk 
people could gradually evolve a symbol of the "Little Father " of all the 
Russias, but, in our time, publicity men create a "Coolidge legend." 
Millions must be impressed, and that right quickly. 1 The conscious 
build-up of modern symbols is indirectly illustrated by some humorous 
suggestions of a Chicago Tribune editorial in which, following a statement 
that the Commissioner of Fisheries was to have a new flag, the writer 
suggested flags for other departments, such as : Works Progress Adminis- 
tration a golden rake above three tattered and well-worn leaves; 
Tennessee Valley Authority a large dynamo, connected with a single 
electric curling iron; Interstate Commerce Commission a locomotive, 
bound in red tape; for Mr. Jones of the Reconstruction Finance Corpora- 
tion a large bottle of red ink on a field of blue, signifying hope. 

Though modern leadership is so prolific in creating symbols and so 
active in promulgating them, most men in large publics develop no such 
allegiance to these transient symbols as did the crusader with his cross. 
The very plethora of modern symbols diffuses attention. A folk people 
evolve as many symbols as they need. A modern propagandist may 
become too enamored of his own handiwork. He may create too many 
symbols. General Goering has already designed too many uniforms and 
has become a subject of ridicule. The cohesive force of symbols created 
by modern authoritarian states remains to be tested by crisis conditions. 

In the preceding discussions we would appear to have been preoccu- 
pied with the essentially nonlogical forms of mental functioning. That 
is true, but the inconsistencies and illogicalities of thinking in large publics 
are evident on every hand. "Neither the existence nor the positive 

1 See Merriam, C. E., Political Power, pp. 37 ff., 105 /., 1934. 


value of the irrational in man is to be glossed over. All the instincts, 
impulses and emotions which push man into action outside the treadmill 
of use and wont are irrational. The depths, the mysteries of nature are 
non-rational." 1 However, the nonlogical and nonrational processes of 
large publics do not always result in irrational behavior. Large publics 
often do the right things those which may be supported by logical 
analysis for the wrong reasons. Socially desirable causes are supported 
more often than not because of the personal characteristics of their 
leaders, the rationalizations that the leaders supply, the emotional 
responses that they stimulate, and so forth. Large publics have per- 
sistently survived, and often quite happily, a vast amount of bumbling, 
emotional, personalized, simplified mentation. But the simplification 
has not been all on their side. When the logician would remedy such a 
situation with large doses of logical thinking among the masses, he shows 
a limited understanding of recent psychology. How could large opposing 
groups be trained to think logically about a specific issue, when they have 
been conditioned differently, respond to various symbols and perhaps 
embrace quite divergent ideologies? 

However, the results of nonrational psychological processes among 
masses of people have not always been socially desirable, and in the 
immediate future they may be very unhappy indeed. For there is a 
terrifyingly intentional and deliberate cultivation of the irrational in 
modern life. The rise of a wide variety of interest groups has been 
accompanied by the conscious cultivation of popular irrationality, for 
the achievement of the purposes of these political and economic groups. 
We cannot hope to achieve quickly, "a really educated democracy, 
distrustful of emotional phraseology and all the rest of the stock-in-trade 
of the exploiters of crooked thinking, devoid of reverence for ancient insti- 
tutions and ancient ways of thinking, which could take conscious control 
of our social development. " 2 The majority of men cannot now rapidly be 
trained to heroic doses of logical thinking. Fortunately, they do not 
need to be so trained. The rise of a skillful and socially well-intentioned 
leadership, with realistic definitions, logically achieved, may yet control 
and direct toward objectives that will make possible the good life for 
the common man. He may support these with his sentiments. It is 
to be hoped that this may be achieved within a politically democratic 

In our introductory chapter, we have already discussed divergent 
viewpoints on this problem among contemporary educators, publicists 
and politicians. We shall consider them at some length in a later chapter 
on Propaganda. 

1 Dewey, J., Characters and Events, vol. II, p. 587, 1929. 
* Thouless, op. cit. t p. 226. 


It is difficult to see adequately the functions of language because it is 
so deeply rooted in the whole of human behavior that it may be suspected 
that there is little in the functional side of our conscious behavior in which 
language does not play a part. 1 

Most students of linguistics are preoccupied with a series of problems 
that do not concern the sociologist or social psychologist. The descrip- 
tions of the structures, roots and meanings of particular words and 
phrases; the historical development, tracing origins and growth of 
language; the comparative study of language forms and their diffusion; 
the grammatical classifications on the basis of etymology are of but 
limited interest to the social psychologist. Few linguists have dealt in a 
more than incidental fashion with the relations of language to the social 
processes or with the relations of thought and language. 2 

Although, from Hobbes to Max Mliller, students have insisted on the 
intimate connection of language and thought, it is only recently that this 
basic problem has received intensive consideration by psychologists, 
social psychologists and philosophers. 3 To a considerable extent the 
behaviorists have stimulated the recent discussions, but "the weakness 
of the behavioristic theory of meaning is that it affords no criterion by 
which acts of understanding can be distinguished from other habitual 
acts." 4 A stimulus-response description is an oversimplification. Nor 
is there any conclusive proof that thinking is always consciousness of 
language forms. Obviously there is much verbalization that is merely 
response to stimuli. A person, incapable of understanding, may 
babble words in a learned sequence. There is much divorce of 
language and thought, but this does not adequately describe all 
of language behavior. Language has been described as having four 
main functions: (1) the direct instigation of determinate actions; 
(2) the provoking of revelations as to the character and range of 
experience of others; (3) the control of affective states; (4) the communi- 
cation of knowledge. 6 

1 Sapir, E., Ency. Soc. Sci. t 9: 159. 

There are exceptions. See, notably, Jespersen, O., Language, 1921; Bloom- 
field, L., Language, 1933; Sapir, E., Language, 1921. 

1 Perry, C. M., "Language and Thought," Monist, 38: 211-230. 

4 Eaton, R. M., Symbolism and Truth, p. 26, 1925. 

Brown, H. C., "The Use and Abuse of Language," Jour. Phil., 26: 553-41. 


A language is the product of a particular culture. It is composed of 
those words and expressions which label the material objects, relation- 
ships, ideas, concepts and values with which that culture is or has been 
concerned. The individual, in learning that portion of his language 
which he acquires, is guided in his thought to a considerable extent by 
the labels which he learns. In a very basic way, language largely deter- 
mines the content of thought. This is quite obvious either to an eth- 
nologist attempting to explain the concept of romantic love to an 
individual in a primitive culture or to a missionary struggling with the 
communication of the idea of the Trinity. Moreover, within a language 
group, the individual knows but a portion of the existing words. His 
vocabulary is a measure of his participation in his culture. Various 
estimates of the language of the contemporary common man have indi- 
cated a vocabulary of a few thousand terms. 1 Such limited language 
tools do not permit of a wide range of knowledge and of thinking. Fur- 
ther, one's thinking is canalized by the language used in the groups from 
which the individual has obtained his fundamental ideologies. The 
language forms of an ideology are made up of preconceived ideas. These 
thwart thought. Opinion process, as other mental processes, is carried 
on within a particular language, of which the individual has learned only 
a part. Moreover, he is limited by his ideological preconceptions. 

A generation ago it was maintained that languages differed in their 
grammar and content of words because peoples thought differently. 
Contemporary social psychology would be more likely to maintain that 
peoples think differently because their language forms differ. The 
individual speaks the language of his culture group and thinks as that 
group thinks or has thought. In ethnological studies, since Wundt, 
language has been extensively analyzed as reflecting the social processes, 
values and standards of primitive life. Modes of behavior and life ways, 
the cultural framework and social processes, are reflected in language 
forms. Hundreds of such processes and relationships, strange to modern 
Western thought, have been revealed by such studies. Degrees of 
relationship, often more complicated among primitives than in our society, 
are indicated by special words. Enumeration systems, sex classifications 
of objects, descriptive adjectives, the curiously involved tabooed lan- 
guage forms of various primitives, magic and words and many other 
topics can be studied, in part, in language forms. 2 

1 These estimates have been thought to be too low by a few writers. J. M. 
Gillette devised a test whereby he found that he had a vocabulary of 127,800 words, 
and two of his students, 65,800 and 52,489. Admittedly these are highly selected 
subjects, however. Gillette, J. M., "Extent of Personal Vocabularies," Sci. Man., 
29: 451-457. 

* The relations between words and magical properties, not only in primitive and 


Language has implicit in it a mass of social relations. In the rela- 
tively static and, in some respects, simpler primitive cultures these may be 
seen more clearly than in the language forms of the great cultures. 
Therefore, the ethnologist has used such analysis much more extensively 
than has the sociologist. But some sociological studies have utilized 
certain simple forms of language analysis. Let us illustrate, at random, 
a few such uses. L. von Wiese's students, following earlier studies, 
attempted a classification of social processes as designated by German 
words. He notes, "The idea of deriving sociologically usable materials 
through intensive analysis of words denoting relations, etc., has already 
been advanced by Waxweiler, Michels, and in more recent years by 
Eubank." 1 The students in von Wiese's seminar classified dictionary 
words that indicated social relationships. In the Lynds' studies of 
Middletown, the authors informally refer to words and phrases, catch- 
words and slogans as indicative of culture values in this Midwestern town 
from 1890 to 1935. * There are a number of compilations of the slang of 
special groups, such as soldiers, sailors, tramps, stage folk, school boys, 
and a few other groups. However, there has been little sociological 
analysis of these sources. 3 Volumes on principles of sociology sometimes 
refer more or less casually to language analysis. 4 

In the chapter on Communication we have considered some relation- 
ships between the various processes of communication and popular opin- 
ion. In this chapter we shall discuss certain relationships between 
language, as communication, and the opinion process. There are certain 
language forms that play an especially significant role in popular discus- 
sion. Proverbs and opinion; slogans; name calling; changes in reference 
terms; emotion, words and opinion; literature as propaganda will be 
considered briefly. Today, there is an increasingly conscious manipula- 
tion of language forms in economic and political controversy by a more 

contemporary magic but also in mental aberrations, are especially intriguing problems. 
See Thomas, W. I., Primitive Behavior, pp. 92-97, 214-217, 1937; Young, K., Social 
Attitudes, pp. 111-118, 1931; Murchison, C. (ed.), Handbook of Social Psychology 
Chap. 12, 1935. 

*von Wiese, L., and Becker, H., Systematic Sociology, p. 129, 1932. See pp. 

1 This is especially true in the second volume, Middletown in Transition, 1937. 

1 A few such language forms have been discussed sociologically. See Anderson, N., 
The Hobo, 1923; Marshall, R., "Contributions to the Life History of the Northwestern 
Lumberjack," Soc. Forces, 8: 270-275; Wood, W. G., Personal Names, unpublished 
Master's thesis, University of Illinois, 1933. 

4 In Hiller, E. T., Principles of Sociology, 1933, there is an unusually extended dis- 
cussion, noting language as consensus, as social ritual, as a bond of unity, as transmit- 
ting culture and as isolating by excluding from participation. In Lumley, F. E., 
Means of Social Control, 1925, there are sections on the language of praise, flattery, 
persuasion, slogans, gossip, name calling, commands and threats. 


psychologically sophisticated leadership. Even so, the selection, coin* 
ing and popularization of language forms is still more of an art than a 


We have defined opinion as expression on a controversial point. In 
primitive society and in the relatively static folk cultures the range of 
opinion material is usually very narrow. There is more individually 
divergent behavior in primitive societies than the ethnologists of a genera- 
tion ago recognized. The writings of Malinowski, Benedict, Mead, 
Radin and many other contemporary anthropologists have described such 
divergence. However, in general, preliterate groups are relatively static, 
and the cultural definitions are incorporated in individual attitudes to an 
extent that precludes much range to the controversially discussible. The 
group beliefs and values are incorporated in myths and legends, stories 
and songs, sayings and proverbs. Personal relations and intergroup 
relationships are fairly simple and usually clearly defined. The lan- 
guage form that most clearly reflects primitive values is the proverb. 
Proverbs preserve practical wisdom and can be quoted to quell individual 
expressions of divergent opinion. Likewise, among folk peoples, the 
proverb is an important agent in controlling opinion and behavior. 

The proverb is a language form that has largely passed out of use in 
contemporary American culture. 1 Current speech and literature provide 
but few quotations or allusions to the proverb. There are isolated areas 
and surviving cultures, notably first-generation foreign-language groups 
of peasant origin, where the proverb retains some of its former vigor as an 
educational and controlling agent. Every popular proverb has seemed 
good to a multitude of men, but, in a culture that has largely dispensed 
with them, even a single quotation may call forth the wondering ridicule 
directed toward a cultural variation. Many a contemporary audience 
considers a proverb as somehow vaguely humorous. The proverb is a 
social definition of a situation. When that situation appears to the 
literary and political leaders, who coin such phrases, less simple, less 
personal and less subject to dogmatic solution, the supply is cut off and 
the old forms fall into disuse. Other forms of stereotyped phrases take 
their place. The proverb is a cultural invention. It is not inevitable. 

1 There is no absolute agreement as to the definition of a proverb, but the sense of 
the definitions appears to be that it is a sentence or short statement indicating some 
supposedly profound reflection on human or, at times, cosmic and supernatural rela- 
tionships. Lord John Russell called it, "the wisdom of many and the wit of one"; 
Lord Bacon indicated that it was the "genius, wit and spirit of a nation 1 '; Cervantes 
declared the proverb to be, "a short sentence drawn from long experience," 


The proverb frequently has characteristics of structure that give it a 
high memory value. Like the slogan, the motto, the rallying cry and 
other condensed language forms, its success is in part dependent upon 
just such details. Furthermore, in periods during which a high degree of 
unanimity in social judgments exists, the proverb appears to masses of 
people as the expression of profound wisdom, a sort of well-rounded, 
easily communicable truth. It may happen that, "they interfere between 
husband and wife, parents and children, and teach all of them manners 
with unsparing frankness. They play with the children, counsel their 
parents, and dream dreams with the old." 1 The specific types of 
proverbs in daily use are indicative of the conflict tensions in the social 

The proverb does not appear to be characteristic of a complex cul- 
ture under conditions of rapid change in beliefs dealing with social 
and supernatural relationships. The forms in existence fall into disuse, 
and the literary, political and economic leaders provide no new forms. 
More transient word forms provide the current phrases. The variety 
of conflicting social judgments assumes a different language form, no 
less dogmatic probably, but much less permanent. Sentences from 
popular songs, slang phrases, "wise cracks," items from the cinema, 
slogans of economic advertising, phrases from the radio, and the like, 
become the coin current in the process of communication. 2 


Words and brief, easily remembered phrases label and stereotype 
social objectives and definitions. Publics persistently become attached 
to certain language forms. Social reform movements flourish on rallying 
cries. One of the early popular reform movements in the economic field 
was led by John Ball in England in the fourteenth century. His mass 
meetings began and ended with the chant, "When Adam delved and Eve 
span, who was then the gentleman?" But long before that, popular 
movements had been symbolized by mottoes, catchwords and slogans. 
Gibbon recounts that in Alexandria one religious faction chanted, 
"Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost," to 
which the other replied, "Glory be to the Father, in the Son, and by the 
Holy Ghost." Thereby street crowds were led to a fury that ended in 
head cracking. Effective conditioning to phrases is an ancient art. The 
modern process is merely characterized by more organization, a more 

1 Elmslie, W., Studies in Life from Jewish Proverbs, p. 24, 1917. 

* The preceding discussion is largely drawn from Albig, W., "Proverbs and Social 
Control/' SocioL Soc. Re*., 15: 527-535. See Hertzler, J. O., Social Thought oj the 
Ancient Civilizations, pp. 373-388, 1936. 


sophisticated psychological analysis of language and a more conscious use 
of language by societal leaders. In Middletown in Transition, the Lynds 
report a marked tendency to define the major political and economic 
problems in terms of a few phrases and language forms, such as "har- 
mony/' "boost/ 1 "we will reduce taxes/' "economy/' "civic unity," 
"radicalism is un-American," and the like. These are bandied about by 
speakers, the newspapers and the men's civic clubs. 

The effective slogan has a few well-known, simple characteristics of 
structure. An advertising man writes, "The slogan should be simple to 
understand, easy to remember, and pleasant to repeat. Since the success 
of a slogan depends largely on its repetition, the qualities of brevity, 
aptness, and original approach are imperative. Seven short words would 
seem the maximum to use in a slogan, six just few enough to be within the 
margin of safety, and less than that even more desirable." 1 "Back to 
Normalcy" was an almost perfect political slogan, as it appeared to mean 
almost all things to all men and was inherently meaningless. Lumley 
describes the most effective slogans as brief; rhythmical; alliterative; 
repetitive; affirmative; appealing to curiosity, the sentiments, class and 
authority; punning; appearing to summarize a profound idea. 2 Select 
your own illustrations of slogans that have some of these characteristics. 
There is certainly plenty of material in the language of contemporary 
politics and business. The effective slogan becomes a stimulus situation 
to arouse known attitudes. 

The political and religious fields are the ancient stamping ground of the 
slogans. Their use in advertising, by causes, movements and various 
organizations, is a recent development appearing during the last fifty 
years. In the political field, slogans have been especially associated with 
popular mass movements. Those related to the prevailing attitudes such 
as the famous "Liberty, Equality and Fraternity" are strong, effective and 
persistent. Those applied from above which do not tap such attitudes 
are transient and relatively ineffective. Certain slogans are officially 
adopted by nations, parties, groups and organizations. "In God We 
Trust" is printed on American money. During the depression a waggish 
banker suggested that there should be stamped on the other side, "I 
hope that my Redeemer liveth." National objectives may be stated, as in 
"Make the World Safe for Democracy." Group declarations are incor- 
porated in slogans, as in the case of the Japanese feminists who rally 
around the phrase "The Sun Is Female." Crisis and conflict situations 
are the breeding ground of slogans. All the wars and group conflicts 
of recent centuries have called forth many phrases. Emotional campaigns 
necessitate catchwords. 

* Kleppner, (X, Advertising Procedure, p. 112, 1934. 

* Lumley , op. cit. t Chap. 7. 


Many slogans are associated with particular personalities. General 
Pershing is credited with ''Lafayette, we are here," Marshall Petain with 
"They shall not pass," and the Kaiser was the object of the phrase "The 
War Lord." William Jennings Bryan was long known by "You shall not 
press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns; you shall not 
crucify mankind upon a cross of gold." Vanderbilt never outlived "The 
public be damned/' Personality stereotyping is sometimes accomplished 
in phrases. 

There is a fashion element in the coining of phrases. In the early 
nineties a Kodak company and a hook-and-eye company advertised with 
"You Press a Button; We Do the Rest" and "See That Hump," respec- 
tively. These were given wide publicity and were paraphrased and paro- 
died on the stage, in the newspaper and in conversation. 1 For the next 
decade, advertising largely consisted of slogan making. This word 
jugglery often was crude, inept and ineffective. But many advertising 
men of that day appeared to believe that if they could only discover the 
proper phrase success was assured. Today, hundreds of phrases are 
retained in the advertising of various products, but such slogans have 
become a relatively minor part of advertising technique. Popular con- 
tests in the coining of slogans are primarily used today to preoccupy 
thousands of people with the advertised product rather than for the 
discovery of a telling phrase. When the playing with words is popular, 
sheer verbal exuberance leads to crude excess. The groceterias, morti- 
cians, shellubrications, and the like, are characteristic of the more flam- 
boyant phases of American business life. Slogan making by the publicity 
men spread from commercial advertising to the campaigns of athletic 
groups, education, religious organizations, communities, reform groups 
and civic clubs. 

The mind of modern man is stimulated by an increasing variety of 
impressions. Condensation of appeals is inevitable, as is evidenced by 
forms of stereotyping, newspaper headlines, and the like. Slogans are 
peculiarly adapted to this need. They may distort, but they satisfy. 
Social psychology is not adequately developed to provide very exact 
answers as to their effectiveness. If the phrase happens to be adapted 
to existing attitudes, it is successful. But the special pleader cannot 
manipulate at will. Advertising men are frequently too sanguine as to 
the effect of slogans. But catchwords are persistent and inevitable. 


Among the simpler peoples, the relationships between language forms 
and the objects they designate are often mystically conceived. The 
name is thought of as an intrinsic part of that which it designates. 

1 Prcsbrey, F., The History and Development of Advertising, p. 369, 1929. 


Therefore^ primitives' magical conceptions frequently lead them to the 
use or avoidance of names as a way of manipulating that which is named. 
You may kill or injure a person by the proper spells or incantations in 
which you incorporate his name. Likewise, you may influence the spirits 
or objects in nature by naming them. The language of magical reference 
and the tabooed language forms of various preliterates provide a baffling 
and intricate problem for the ethnologist. When primitive peoples 
indulge in derisive name calling and in opprobrious epithets in face-to-face 
ridicule, there is an especially potent invasion of personality. One is 
not only socially depreciated but also magically attacked. Hence, 
many primitive peoples find name calling and ridicule an effective method 
of social control. Formal name-calling ceremonies were a widespread 
method of conflict among North American Indians and Eskimos. 1 

Children's language, the verbalizations of the mentally aberrant and 
the naming by opprobrious epithets indulged in by large publics, evi- 
dence something of the same tendencies. Honorific and humilific terms 
exist in every language. There are more of the latter. Both types are 
widely used in social conflict, not only to designate those referred to, but 
also to laud or depreciate them. When the conflict develops between 
large popular groups, the process is inevitable. Of course, there may be 
more or less of it. Like other elements in a changing culture, there are 
fashions in name calling. The practice waxes and wanes, depending 
upon the rise and imitation of expert name callers and upon changes in 
the social structure that present new tensions and conflict groups. A 
Theodore Roosevelt greatly increases name calling for a political genera- 
tion. Protestantism provided ever new sects to hurl opprobrious epithets 
at one another, since they had diverse interpretations of the ways of the 
gentle Christ. 

As increasingly divergent definitions of religious, economic and 
political phenomena have developed during the past four centuries; as 
special interest groups of many kinds have arisen; as populations have 
become more mobile and have come in contact with more diverse types 
of people ; as the attention areas of modern man have widened, providing 
him with more things to be prejudiced against, the practice of name calling 
has increased. Name calling is rife wherever there are major divisions 
in society between which conflict intermittently occurs. Names are 
hurled back and forth between political groups, between churches, eco- 
nomic groups in conflict, town and country, between the sexes, at the 
physically different, at foreigners and, indeed, wherever conflict is occur- 
ring between the standards and ideas of two or more groups. Political 
functioning in American democracy has persistently been conducted 
amidst more or less name calling, taunts and crude buffoonery. J. G. 

1 Thomas, W. I., Primitive Behavior, pp. 544 ff. 9 1937. 


Elaine's railroad deals were referred to when crowds chanted, "Blaine, 
Elaine, J. G. Blaine, The continental liar from the state of Maine. 
Burn this letter. " Cleveland's supposed illegitimate son gave rise to the 
campaign jingle, "Ma, Ma, where's my pa? Gone to the White 
House. Ha, ha, ha!" In Chicago's brawling primaries of the Thompson 
period, the candidates outdid one another in hurling back and forth 
such names as "chimpanzee," "nut," baboon," "looney," and the like. 
Senator Brookhart was an able name hurler. In his last senatorial 
campaign such terms as "cockroach," "bologna fiddler," "pay-roll 
racketeer," "bunk shooters," and "hee-haw Chautauqua weight lifter" 
were coined. The late Senator Huey Long and Father Coughlin were 
experts. General Johnson is an astute manipulator of lurid epithets. 

In the struggles between Protestant denominations during the last 
half of the nineteenth century, a choice variety of names were created 
and mutually exchanged. These names are not so much in evidence now, 
which is perhaps an indication that the rank and file of their memberships 
are not now so much interested in the fine points of doctrinal difference. 
The conflict has shifted to religionists versus nonreligionists. The late 
Billy Sunday convulsed large audiences with his vivid name calling. He 
once said, "Our country is filled with a socialistic, I.W.W., Communistic, 
radical, lawless anti-American, antichurch, anti-God, antimarriage gang, 
and they are laying the eggs of rebellion and unrest in labor and capital 
and home; and we have some of them in our universities. I could take 
you through the universities and pick out a lot of black-hearted, Com- 
munistic fellows who are teaching that to the boys and sending them out 
to undermine America." 1 

Changing relationships increase or decrease name calling. One 
does not hear or read of the variety of names directed at the "city 
slicker" by the country folk or toward the "rube," "hayseed" or any 
of the other names thrown countryward by the city dweller of thirty 
years ago, probably because the more obvious and discernible differences 
of dress, speech and manners have diminished. 

Prof. Lumley has characterized the meaning of this name-calling 
practice as a "protest against social change and thus as a means of social 
control." 2 It is a warning to innovators, but usually not a socially 
conscious process. Name calling may be most profitably described in 
terms of its influence on popular opinion in conflict situations. The 
Puritans were referred to by the Cavaliers as "Roundheads," because 
most of them had their hair cut short. Such names designate and 
depreciate the outsider and by implication elevate the name caller. In 
the community, groups call names at foreigners or at alien cultural or 

1 Quoted by Huse, H. R., Illiteracy of the Literate, p. 175, 1933. 
1 Lumley, op. cit., p. 300. 


racial groups. "Bohunk," "wop," "dago," "chink," "greaser," "nig- 
ger" are all belittling names. They denote the outsider, the stranger, 
the alien person who must be battered down. This name calling is a 
form of fighting; it is a protest against invasion and an attempt to assign 
an inferior position to the stranger. Other types of opprobrious epithets 
perform a similar function. The names usually apply to the most obvi- 
ous differences, such things as personal appearance, manners, food prefer- 
ences, variant religious exercises, speech, and the like. 


The meanings of words may be gradually changed by folk practice 
or through redefinitions by language experts. In English, "to haul" 
means to move by force and violence, but, in America, the meaning is 
"to transport"; "to heft" in English means "to lift up," but, in America, 
the meaning gradually came to be "to weigh by lifting." 1 In other cases 
the word is the same and its objective definition is the same, but popular 
responses to it have changed. Recently, a young woman of New York 
was being beautified by a French hairdresser who was a recent immigrant. 
He noticed a blue pin that she was wearing and inquired its meaning. 
"That," explained the young woman, "means that I am a Daughter 
of the American Revolution." "Oh, this is most terrible," said the 
Frenchman, throwing up his hands in horror. "I always thought 
Mademoiselle such a nice, sweet girl, and now you tell me you are a 
revolutionist." In still other cases, the word is changed to another, 
while the objective reality remains the same. Popular speech of the 
Victorian period changed "legs" into "limbs," a wine cooler into a "sar- 
cophagus," "breast" into "bosom," and a young girl was informed that 
"only animals sweat, men perspire but young ladies merely glow." In 
many cases, changes in language forms reflect changing popular values 
and opinions. Many euphemistic terms result from popular aversion 
to certain words. Hence, the references to the "deceased" and the 
"departed" and to "misconduct" and girls "in trouble", the variety of 
terms for "drunken" and scores of other softened words. 2 

On the other hand, language changes may be brought about by indi- 
viduals and groups who manipulate language in the interests of a cause, 
a viewpoint or some other special bias. When a Chicago paper refers 
to the unemployment insurance bill, it persistently headlines it 
as the "idleness" insurance bill. When the break in sterling took the 
English pound to its lowest level, newspaper readers were not told that 
sterling was down but that "gold leaps up again." Groups change 
language in their own interests. "The concrete realities of politics are 

1 Mencken, H. L. y The American Language, pp. 121-124, 1936. 

* Huse, H. R., op. cit. t pp. 32ff. 9 for further illustrations of euphemistic terms. 


individual human beings, living together in national groups. Politicians 
and to some extent we are all politicians substitute abstractions for 
these concrete realities, and having done this, proceed to invest each 
abstraction with an appearance of concreteness by personifying it." 1 
When a military writer likes to speak of "sabers" and "rifles" instead 
of "cavalrymen" or "foot soldiers," he has abstracted in this fashion. 
In a recent Associated Press report, one reads, "The Japanese troops 
accepted the challenge. Japanese reinforcements are being rushed in 
consideration of casualties expected." Troops have been personified in 
the idea that they as individuals had accepted a "challenge" and, on 
the other hand, have been tragically abstracted when referred to as 
" casualties." The astute political leader substitutes new words for those 
which have become unpopular. LeBon noted that "when crowds have 
come, as the result of political upheavals or changes of belief, to acquire 
a profound antipathy for the images evoked by certain words, the first 
duty of the true statesman is to change the words without, of course, 
laying hands on the things themselves." 2 The work of the Consulate 
and the Empire in France, according to De Tocqueville, consisted, in 
part, in clothing the old practices and institutions with new words, 
replacing the words in disrepute. 

The manipulation of language by the advertising man is obvious. 
Corsets and underwear are far too unromantic and harshly descriptive for 
an advertising vocabulary, which is enriched by the following: (1932), 
Freeflex, Youthlastic, Chalkettes; (1933), Snugflex, Scamp Bra, Teds; 
(1934), Joylastiques, Sheathlynes, Lasteze; (1935), Scandalettes, Silk- 
skin, Slim-a-Hip; (1936), Super-Control, Adaptolette, Flexees and 
Stryps. As I walked to my office today, a blaring radio informed me 
that " Van Raalte is unsurpassed in modifying the rear profile." 

All of this is not mere legerdemain of the word, so to speak. Members 
of large publics do not understand words as mere labels. Ogden and 
Richards indicate that words become our masters because the nature of 
language fosters a belief in the independent reality of what are merely 
verbal contrivances. We are emotionally conditioned to certain words. 
That is why interest groups manipulate language. 


It is reported that a professor of economics recently delivered to a 
popular audience a scholarly address on economic problems and foreign 
affairs. Respectful applause followed the lecture. But when the fol- 
lowing speaker said, "Prof. X has given us a learned address, but I 
think he missed the essential point what the world wants is more 

1 Huxley, A., The Olive Tree, p. 96, 1937. 
*;UBon, G., Tht Crowd, p. 121, 


brotherly love," the applause was deafening. 1 The second speaker had 
mentioned an emotionally tinged word. "Love " has been much mouthed 
in the Christian tradition and has acquired still more emotional conno- 
tations in the romantic tradition. We remember that in Of Thee I Sing 
the presidential candidate was successful on the one-word platform love. 

That, as members of large publics, we are conditioned to respond with 
various emotions to certain words is an obvious fact. An American 
electorate, congregation, audience, reader of class periodicals or- adver- 
tising public is, at times, the victim of a leadership manipulating emo- 
tionally tinged words. Emotional responses play a large part in the 
popular-opinion process. Leaders and special pleaders, advertising men 
and publicity experts use various appeals to the emotions. In the art of 
propaganda, the attempt is made to use catchwords that will arouse 
emotion and thwart reflection. However emotion may be described in 
psychological terms, the individual is aware of behavior during disturbed 
states of bodily and mental functions that differs from behavior in the 
absence of such disturbance. One of the uses of language is 
to stimulate such disturbances and the resulting behavior. Fear, anger, 
resentment, insecurity, avid self-seeking and many other emotional ele- 
ments are related to certain words. Only the intellectually mature 
person, and he only under exceptionally favorable conditions of training 
and of the immediate situation, may partly escape from this bondage to 
words. His escape is only intermittent. 

Appeals to traditional emotional attitudes may be made when the 
simplest logical analysis would indicate a quite different state of affairs. 
In the battle against votes for women, especially in England, women 
were appealed to as "ministering angels/' "gentler natures" and "civi- 
lizing influences." In the name of "noble maternity," they were asked 
to abjure political functioning. 

Escape from the emotive words is sometimes achieved by inventing 
new words or changing the designative terms. For example, certain 
human relationships and social processes have common names in popular 
parlance. A "science of society/' however, develops an esoteric verbiage 
in sociology or ethnology or law. This is necessary in order not only to 
designate concepts and provide for the niceties of distinctions but also 
to create a certain popular respect and to avoid the connotations of the 
popularly used emotive words. A part of the Marxist appeal has been 
a complex language with the resultant appearance of objectivity. The 
two volumes on Middletown have achieved a large number of readers. 
These books are excellently written ,and, in comparison with the com- 
munity surveys that preceded them, relatively thorough studies. How- 
ever, one factor in their popularity among diverse reading publics has 

1 Garrett, J., "America Laughs at Herself," The New Statesman and Nation, Sept. 
29, 1034. p. 394, 


been that an ethnological terminology has largely concealed whatever 
bias their authors may harbor. When, in the middle of the last century, 
a few bold professors concluded that sex was neither an obscene mystery 
nor a dirty joke, they invented a polysyllabic Latin vocabulary with 
which to discuss it. Using terms that were devoid of popular emotional 
associations, they were able to discuss sexual functioning with the mini- 
mum of disturbance to large publics and to themselves. 

Among masses of people, emotional attitudes are related to particular 
words by training, inculcation, formal and informal education. In 
earliest language experience there are words rich in emotional, rather 
than conceptual, connotation. " Bugaboo, hobgoblin, bugbear, hoo-doo, 
have no clear conceptual content, but they do stand for something to be 
feared. And in maturity we have a long list of terms whose real sig- 
nificance is as much emotional as it is conceptual. Such, for example, 
are the terms mother, home, country, traitor, and the like." 1 In the 
American community there are emotional responses to such words and 
phrases as "honesty," "kindness," "booster," "knocker," "success," 
"average man," "practical," "snob," "common sense," "steady, ""prog- 
ress," "radical," "conservative," "atheist," "community spirit," "the 
happy child," "red-blooded," "the American way," "expert" and scores 
of other terms. 2 Lists of words with obvious emotional connotations 
may be developed for different cultures, ages, groups and classes, and the 
like. Prof. Friedrich notes a greater emotional response to the words 
and phrases of nation and country among rural dwellers than among 
urban proletarians. 3 In a recent study a series of sixteen statements on 
social issues was presented to 742 subjects, who were asked to indicate 
"yes" or "no" to each of them. Some time later, these statements 
were presented once more, having been divided into equal groups of two 
statements each, with each group headed by the comment that the state- 
ments in it were typical of conservatism, fascism, patriotism, pacifism, 
liberalism, radicalism, socialism or communism. The subjects once more 
indicated "yes" or "no" to each statement. No reliable shifts in 
response were noted for conservatism, patriotism, pacifism, liberalism or 
socialism. But opposition to fascism was indicated by shifts of from 
-11.8 to -70.0 per cent in the various groups, radicalism brought about a 
negative change of -32.1 per cent, and communism caused -19.0 to -62.2 
per cent of the subjects to change their answers. 4 Societal leaders, in 
public utterances, constantly make use of their knowledge of the effects 

1 Britan, H. H., "The Function of Emotions," Psychol Rev., 33: 37. 

1 Lynd, R., and Lynd, H. M., Middletown in Transition, pp. 403-419, 1937. 

'Friedrich, C. J., "The Agrarian Basis of Emotional Nationalism," Pub. Opin. 
Quar., 1:2:50-61. 

4 Menafee, 8. C., "The Effect of Stereotyped Words on Political Judgments," 
Am. Sociol.R#>.. 1:614-621. 


of certain words upon their hearers or readers. Of course, the process 
is as old as human speech. When attacked by a mob in the Temple at 
Jerusalem, Paul started to discuss resurrection. This immediately 
divided the crowd into warring factions, and he was momentarily for- 
gotten. Today, leadership is not necessarily more astute, but its knowl- 
edge of language is systematized and more consciously applied. 

The relations between language and communication, between symbol 
and meaning, between words and understanding limit and, also, direct 
the opinion process, as well as other social processes. 1 But the study of 
these relations, being peculiarly baffling, has been relatively neglected in 
social psychology. What are the prevailing attitudes toward certain 
words and phrases in cultures, classes or groups? The words used in 
popular controversy and opinion have shifting, variable meanings. 
How widespread are such attitudes; who is involved; how were such 
attitudes developed; when and how were emotional conditionings 
accomplished; how may they be changed? To what extent are meanings 
involved? Is there a relatively clear-cut concept or understanding of 
the definitive limits of meaning within which the word may be used? 
Have certain words, contemporaneously used as catchalls or as vague 
and hazy reference terms, always been so vague when they have been 
used by large publics in the past? What is the history of their popular 
definition? For example, congregations contentedly sing popular hymns 
without the slightest understanding of many of the phrases therein. 
These phrases had meaning in the theological controversies of a century 
or two ago. In a sense, language makes possible the preservation of 
the emotions of bygone periods, because the anxiety dreams, the fears 
and the hopes of past ages may be described. But if such emotional 
experiences of earlier publics are to be understood by contemporaries, 
they must be described in the language of contemporaries. Phrases, 
slogans and words about which were woven the warmest emotional 
loyalties or which aroused fear and antagonism a century ago may leave 
the modern reader undisturbed. To recapture in any adequate way the 
significance of any symbols of a people of a bygone age is always difficult. 
And language symbols are usually more difficult to understand ade- 
quately in retrospect than are concretizations in stone, design, pictures 
and images. How may sentiments be countered by other sentiments? 
What are the limits of language manipulation on any given topic? 
What is the record of the language of popular rationalizations in American 
experience? The members of a businessmen's luncheon club of a decade 

1 For further discussion of language, thought and opinion, see Arnold, T. W. f 
The Folklore of Capitalism, 1937, especially Chaps. 5, 7, 8; Chase, S., The Tyranny of 
Words, 193a 


ago achieved an emotional glow over "service" and thereby often 
rationalized group acquisitiveness. When have publics learned formal 
definitions, but have not understood, or have misunderstood, the essence? 
These and many other questions about language, opinion and social 
behavior cannot be exactly answered. There is an art, but not a science, 
of these language forms. 


How many turn back toward dreams and magic, how many children 

Run home to Mother Church, Father State, 

To find in their arms the delicious warmth and folding of souls. 

The age weakens and settles home toward old ways. 

An age of renascent faith : Christ said, Marx wrote, Hitler says, 

And though it seems absurd we believe. 

Sad children, yes. It is lonely to be an adult, you need a father. 1 

The problems of authority and individual freedom and of impersonal 
and personal authority are persistent. Such problems are also as old 
as the higher civilizations. Institutional authority of impersonal types 
is exhibited in the control exercised by laws, constitutions, creeds, sym- 
bols, and the like. For the past four centuries, the Western world has 
been the arena of intermittent revolts against the authority of church 
and state, and against standards in art and science and economic life. 2 
Personal authority is exhibited in the activities of the leader as headman 
and symbol, as well as in his organizing, directorial, functional capacities. 
Such personal leadership may gain in authority in institutional crises. 
At such points, large publics exhibit their persistent fondness for 
the understandable personal symbol and follow the dramatic leader. The 
recent charismatic tendencies of Germans and Italians illustrate the 
flight of harried masses to the personal leader. 

But leadership functions not only at world crises but to some extent 
in every social situation. The roles and functions of the leader, the 
characteristics of the leader and the techniques of leadership vary with 
the situation. Various groups, differing in size, the nature of their 
constituents and the group purposes and functions, require different 
types of leadership. The characteristics of the leader and the leadership 
process are obviously dissimilar in a board meeting, a theater fire, and a 
Southern political gathering. Moreover, types of leadership and of 
preferred personalities vary greatly in different cultures and at different 
periods of culture history. 3 There are no universal principles of leader- 

1 Jeffers, Robinson, Such Counsels You Gave to Me, p. 105, 1937. Reprinted by 
courtesy of Random House, Inc. 

1 Dewey, J., "Authority and Social Change," in Authority and The Individual, 
Harvard Tercentenary Publications, 1937. 

1 Prof. P. A. Sorokin has presented an ingenious analysis in his Social and Cultural 
Dynamics, vol. Ill, Chap. 15, 1937. 



ship, but there are processes of leadership and patterns of relationship 
between leader and follower that are characteristic of types of groups. 


The sociologist Georg Simmel declared that submission may be 
exhibited toward a person, a group or an impersonal principle. 1 But 
in large groups, personal authority is the kind most frequently and 
dramatically exercised. The leader is the most vital authority to the 
common man. However, in special groups, also, thinking and discussion 
are frequently carried on by appeal to personal authority. This volume 
is strewn with references, quotations and footnotes, because those 
quoted have explained or defined with greater clarity than I and because 
the academic tradition decrees the allocation of intellectual credit. I 
have greater security and you are more readily convinced by such 

Large groups persistently ascribe social change, political innovation 
and mechanical invention to personal leaders. Folk tales and legends 
reflect the doings of heroes, anthropomorphized gods and devils. The 
personal stereotype is pervasive. This tendency in the individual 
mental process we have described as a form of stereotyping. The 
popularization of abstractions and processes is achieved by personaliza- 
tion. The social philosopher has long understood this process. Milton 
stated, "Delineate so, by likening spiritual to corporal forms, as may 
express them best." Today, the terse slogan of Time magazine is 
"Names Make News." The names of significant personalities become 
tags for processes. The idea of mass production is referred to in Europe 
as "fordisme." The medieval churchman associated wanton destruction 
with the sack of Rome in 455 by the Vandals, hence "vandalism." 
Personal leaders provide many symbols of discourse. 

Members of large publics understand the functioning of personality 
and personal relationships better than they do the statement of abstrac- 
tions, principles or ideologies. Concern with the personal characteristics 
of oneself and of others is a daily preoccupation. During the past 
year, the American literate public has bought over 600,000 copies of 
How to Win Friends and Influence People; over 200,000 copies of Life 
Begins at Forty; over 100,000 copies of Wake Up and Live. Interpersonal 
influences and values are a popular interest. The desired personal 
characteristics provide one basis for the choice of popular leaders and 
are also, in part, molded by the attributes of those leaders. Although 
there is a growing tendency toward impersonal thinking, principles and 
theories are often abandoned in crises, and the oljj, personal, leader- 
follower relationship is embraced once more. The struggle between the 

* Spykman, N., The Social Theory of Georg Simmel, p. 100, 1925. 


emphasis on the great man, the leader principle reincarnated in Der 
Fiihrer,-!! Duce and Stalin, and the historical materialism of a socialist 
movement, rising through the nineteenth century, has found no solution 
in the popular mind. Analysis of movements, parties and other large- 
group phenomena in the nonpersonal terms of general social process 
was achieving some increased popular understanding during the past 
century. The successive state and economic convulsions of the past 
twenty years made attractive once more the dramatic personal symbolism 
of the great man. Large publics have retrogressed to the values with 
which they were acquainted. 

The quest for personal leadership is based in part upon fear and 
uncertainty. In projecting the father image onto the leaders of the 
great society, millions of followers seek for the security and personal 
response of an intimate primary group. There is more belief in authority 
than in fact and experimentation, because the members of large publics 
have more confidence in their ability to discern personal qualities than 
in their capacity to winnow out the pertinent facts. And uncertainty . 
is terrifying to the average man. Publics seek for charismatic leaders. 

The guide most favored by mankind has been the medicine man, or priest, 
reputed to have direct access to divine wisdom; and in his wake came along 
presently the philosopher who, sinking a shaft into his own mighty mind, and 
prospecting and introspecting through its darksome galleries, emerged with 
Absolutes infallible to the good life; Truth, Beauty, Duty, Faith, Loyalty. The 
philosopher has never seriously crowded his predecessor in popularity, because 
he could never tell people, in a few plain, loud words what to do. Besides, 
philosophers talked a mysterious jargon and each has contradicted the other. 
When the old-time priest rumbled out of his beard, "Thus saith the Lord: Fetch a 
goat!" that was something any clod could understand and carry in mind. He 
hurried off to get the goat. 1 

Today, the quest for certainty, the quest for simple, understandable, 
comprehensible plans in a world of complex social relationships, has 
intensified the quest for trustworthy personal authority. Authoritarian 
political leaders are not merely officials, directors, organizers and guides. 
They are spiritual chiefs. Reliance upon them may be misplaced con- 
fidence, but it is psychologically understandable. 

But the demand for personal leadership in our time is, in a sense, a 
mystic quest. It is the search for a magic formula, as if someone had 
the big secrets and the problem of the masses were simply to find the 
right person. Fundamentally, however, the derangements of our 
social order are (g,ults of balance, proportion, organization and the 

1 Keller, A. G. f Man'* Rough Road, p. 4, 1932. Quoted by permission of Yale 
University Press and Frederick A. Stokes Company. 


absence of a fundamental logic of life. If there existed an adequate 
description of the flaws of our order whereby masses of people are 
thwarted, frustrated and, hence, enraged very ordinary leaders could 
explain it simply. The dogmatic prophet can only confuse. 

Social philosophers have often maintained that the basis for personal 
authority resides in the instinctive attitudes of masses of men. A 
generation ago, Gustave LeBon wrote of the instinctive need of all 
beings forming a crowd to obey a leader. 1 Roberto Michels recently 
wrote that the basis for leadership "may be the instinctive, natural 
submission of the weak or conventional man who yields to any govern- 
ment, autocratic or democratic, national or alien, because he accepts 
without question the traditional values or existing configurations of the 
rapidly shifting social forces." 2 It is not necessary to posit an instinct 
for such response. Indeed, Prof. Michels himself indicates a basis in the 
second half of his sentence. Habituation to leader-follower patterns is 
developed from our traditional values in human relations. 


Although the authority of institutions is expressed in part through 
personal representatives, there is a vast difference between institutional 
authority and personal leadership. Institutional authority resides in 
the traditions, creeds, constitutions, laws and principles of a church, 
state, legal system, system of knowledge or traditional order. Although 
leaders of successful mass movements attempt to institutionalize their 
positions, so that they may be perpetuated, the power process is quite 
different in institutional administration from that of personal domina- 
tion. 3 Intermittent revolts against institutional authority are the 
dominant trend of the past four centuries, but there are some minor 
trends in the opposite direction. For example, one might cite the small 
but growing group of intellectuals, conscious of a need for order in the 
modern scene, who have joined the Roman Catholic church, thus revers- 
ing the intellectuals' centuries-old criticism of ecclesiastical authority. 


Many classifications of types of leadership appear in the literature 
of social psychology. No ; type classification has thus far proved con- 
vincing or adequate. There is a bewildering variety of human associa- 
tions within which the leader functions. Classifiers, with their various 

1 LeBon, G., The Crowd, Chap. 3, 1896. 
8 Michels, R., "Authority," Ency. Soc. Sci., 2: 319. 

8 Read the discussion of the development and mortality of power in Merriam, 
C. E., Political Power, 1934, 


objectives, have been preoccupied with some one facet of society. How- 
ever, there is one useful distinction that may be posited as a starting 
point for classification of authority types. Leadership may be dis- 
tinguished from domination, 1 the leader from the headman 2 ; leadership 
may be distinguished from coercion, 3 power with from power over. 4 
Such a distinction is implicit in our preceding discussion, "Leadership 
is a process of mutual stimulation which, by the successful interplay of 
relevant individual differences, controls human energy in the pursuit 
of a common cause/' 5 But authority may also result from societal 
position, from office holding, from membership in any dominant group 
or institution. Such position permits the individual to exert domination, 
to be a headman, to coerce. Integrative leadership functions through 
personal qualities. 

Personal leadership, as distinguished from other forms of authority, 
may be usefully differentiated into representative, or symbolic, and 
dynamic, or creative, leadership. 8 The representative leader serves 
as a symbol for a group without changing its direction or purposes. 
Dynamic or creative leadership exists when the personal leader directs 
or modifies the objectives of the group. Obviously, the same individual 
frequently functions in both capacities. Nevertheless, this is a useful 
theoretical dichotomy. It is also true that institutional authority and 
personal leadership are exhibited frequently by the same individual. 
The Popes of the Roman Catholic church have often been notable 
examples of this truth. 

Classifications of types of authority, other than these fundamental 
dichotomies, have depended upon the purposes of the writers. Let us 
illustrate from a few studies, in order to indicate the range and diversity 
of classification : 

Sanderson : 7 Bogardus : s 

1. static 1. direct or indirect 

2. executive 2. partisan or scientific 

3. professional 3. social, executive, mental 

4. group leaders 4. autocratic, paternalistic, democratic 

5. specialists in leadership 

1 Pigors, P., Leadership and Domination, 1935. 

2 Cowley, W. EL, "Three Distinctions in the Study of Leaders," Jour, Abu. Soc. 
PsychoL, 23: 144-157. 

* Schmidt, R., "Leadership," Ency. Soc. Sci. 9 9: 282. 
Follett, M. P., Creative Experience, p. 189, 1924. 

* Pigors, op. cit., p. 16. 

9 Schmidt, op. cit., 9: 282-286. 

7 Sanderson, D., and Nafe, R. W., "Studies in Rural Leadership," Pub. Am. 
SocioL Soc. t 23: 163-175. 

8 Bogardus, E. W., Leaders and Leadership, Chap. 2, 1934. 


Nafe:* Munro: 

1. volunteer 5. temporary 1. reformers 

2. drafted 6. conscious 2. bosses 

3. general 7. professional 3* leaders 

4. specialized 8. paid 

There are many other classifications. For the most part, the psychol- 
ogist has attempted to classify types in terms of personality types, and 
the sociologist, in terms of selection for group needs. 

As we have indicated, it is not profitable to attempt to classify types 
of leaders on the basis of personal qualities alone. These must be con- 
sidered in conjunction with the situation in which leadership was exhib- 
ited. Psychological studies have often been unconvincing because the 
personal qualities of the leaders were not adequately related to situation. 
From a study of forty-one psychological biographies of leaders, F. Fearing 
concludes that the factors most frequently stressed by the authors are: 
(1) childhood experiences as conditioning factors, (2) the unconscious 
motivation of adult action, (3) the compensatory component in much 
individual activity and (4) rationalization. 8 Such studies represent a 
particularistic approach* On the other hand, the collection of data 
about leaders, their parentage, place of birth, occupational status, eco- 
nomic status, educational status, group affiliation, and the like, is inade- 
quate. 4 Useful though such data may be, they do not explain the 
leadership process. We need now a large number of studies of institu- 
tional growth and the types of leaders who have emerged at different 
stages of that growth. 5 Such data should be correlated, whenever 
possible, with personality studies of the particular leaders as they develop. 
Accurate portrayal will not atomize the process but will show a functional 
relationship between personal qualities and situational needs. 


All dynamic or creative leadership influences the opinions of followers. 
Institutional authority may simply reflect the mores. But dynamic 

1 Nafe, R. W., "A Psychological Description of Leadership," Jour. Soc. PsychoL, 

* Munro, W. B., Personality in Politics, 1924. 

8 Fearing, F., "Psychological Studies of Historical Personalities," PsychoL Bull., 
24: 521-539. 

4 Sorokin, P. A,, "Leaders of Labor and Radical Movements in the United States 
and Foreign Countries," Am. Jour. SocioL, 33: 382-411; "Leadership and Geographi- 
cal Mobility," Social. Soc. Res., 12: 21-23. 

Taussig, F. W., and Joslyn, C. S., American Business Leaders, 1932. 
Visher, S. S., "Ecology of American Notables," Human Biol., 1: 544-554. 

5 A vigorous discussion of the relation of the leader to "field structure" is presented 
in Brown, J. F., Psychology and the Social Order, Chap. 17, 1936. 


leadership also functions in guiding choices at levels below those at which 
opinions could be said to exist. Goldfish, placed in a bowl with a fish 
that has been successfully conditioned to a simple aquarium maze, learn 
at a faster rate than do those in a group without a leader. 1 In human 
groups, leaders provide many patterns of behavior which are copied by 
followers who have not considered the alternatives. However, from the 
smallest to the largest groups the opinion process is influenced by leaders 
in varying degrees. 

The characteristics of successful leaders and the processes of leader- 
ship in influencing opinion differ with the size and type of groups and 
with the situation or "field structure." There do not appear to be 
general characteristics of leadership that are everywhere effective in 
influencing the opinions of followers. The psychologist's quest for 
general leadership " traits" has been futile. The characteristics of 
leaders of small discussion groups committees, gangs, families, clans, 
neighborhoods and other small groups differ from leadership qualities 
in large publics consisting of thousands and hundreds of thousands of 
members. There is some experimental literature on leadership in small 
groups. 2 Certainly, opinions are influenced in all such groups, but we 
shall not discuss the studies of face-to-face relations. In the large groups 
and publics, there are diverse preferences for leadership qualities, depend- 
ing upon the group's size, organization, purposes, relation to other groups, 
the prevailing attitudes and values and, in general, upon its field structure. 
The situation must always ultimately determine the preferred qualities. 
Leadership qualities vary under democracy, fascism, communism; in 
different ages, periods, cultures; under national ascendency or degrada- 
tion; in an expanding or contracting economy. 

The psychologist rarely considers the situation in his search for 
leadership traits. But long before the social psychologist attempted his 
more detailed classifications, the social philosopher had much to say 
about the characteristics of leaders in large publics. Certain generaliza- 
tions are essentially valid for whole groups of cultures and over long time 
periods. For example, the advantage of positive statements in com- 
parison with negations has been realized in Western cultures for many 

1 Alice, W. C., "Relatively Simple Animal Aggregations," in Handbook for Social 
Psychology (Murchison, C., ed.), p. 944, 1935. 

1 Examine the publications of The Inquiry, especially: Sheffield, A. D., Creative 
Discussion, A Statement of Method for Leaders and Members of Discussion Groups, 1926; 
Elliott, H. S., The Process of Group Thinking, 1932. 

Hollingworth, H. L., The Psychology of the Audience, 1935, has summarized the 
studies on audience situations. 

Murphy, G., Murphy, L. B., and Newcomb, T. M., Experimental Social Psychol- 
ogy, pp. 522-$2$, 1937, summarize the Studies pjf leadership in children's groups. 


Regardless of the situation, large publics cherish the positive state- 
ment. Their own requirements may be vague, but the leader of opinion 
in any large public states a positive program most of the time, although 
his program may be an attack on the existing order. The individual 
thinker or small esoteric groups may maintain a negative or pessimistic 
viewpoint in philosophy, political ideas or economic doctrine. But not 
the large publics in the Western world of the last few centuries. Grim 
predestination never won the mass converts as did Methodism. And 
the village atheist of the last half of the nineteenth century trod his lonely 
way amidst the bounding folk life of America. The agnostic or atheistic 
attitude is disparaged. Political nihilism was never a mass doctrine. 
In such a "climate of opinion/' the confident leader with a positive 
statement is at an advantage. The power of J. L. Lewis and the Con- 
gress of Industrial Organizations has been primarily in their positive, 
if vague, program. The Fascist leaders state positive programs embel- 
lished as a great spiritual message. Mussolini mouths grandiose gener- 
alities about the rebuilding of the glory that was Rome. A depressed 
and bewildered nation welcomed the positive and confident assertions of 
Roosevelt. Contemporary insecurities have intensified the quest for 
leaders with positive programs. In the democracies, this has made ever 
more true the old political maxim "You can't whip somebody with 

Although leadership qualities cannot be considered abstractly but 
must be related to the type of situation and the specific situation, we 
may generalize somewhat about leadership qualities under nineteenth- 
century political democracy. Men were leaders in democracies without 
possessing all the qualities we shall note, but not without evidencing 
many of them. Viscount Bryce said that leaders in democracy must 
possess initiative, comprehension of the forces that affect the needs of the 
people, eloquence of voice and writing, self-confidence and the ability 
to inspire confidence, attract capable lieutenants and achieve personal 
publicity. 1 These he considered the minimum general requirements. 

Political leaders must arouse faith in themselves. In the rapidly 
changing social order of the Western world, faith is accorded to the leaders 
who exhibit speed of decision. Decisiveness, especially at crises, injects 
something clear-cut into the vagueness and confusion of the situation. 
In a battery of tests given to a number of leaders, W. H. Cowley included 
three on speed of decision. The leaders made unquestionably high 
scores on these tests. 2 The most popular American presidents have all 
exhibited at least apparent speed of decision. 

1 Bryce, Viscount, Modern Democracies, Bk. II, Chap. 76, 1921. 
1 Cowley, W. H., "The Traits of Face-to-face Leaders." Jour. Abn. Soc. PsychoL 
*6: 804-313. 


"The prime condition of ascendency is the presence of undirected 
energy in the person over whom it is to be exercised; it is not so much 
forced upon us from without as demanded from within." 1 Leaders sur- 
vive and grow in power who reflect the vague feelings and general aspira- 
tions of large groups. Hitler hurls defiance at what many followers 
consider international persecution. President Roosevelt has retained 
numerous followers who oppose almost every specific measure his admin- 
istration has put forward. But they agree with a general attitude that 
he seems to express clearly and with obvious justice, portraying existing 
convictions in a vivid manner. It is in this sense that it has long been 
declared of leaders in democracy that they are "the common mind to an 
uncommon degree." 

The popular leader must have or build up some elements of personal 
uniqueness. The most popular American leaders have been colorful 
figures. Dramatic situations for exhibiting uniqueness must exist or be 
created. He is a character. A distinctive carriage and style of dress, 
unusual phrases, gestures and dramatic utterances have been his usual 
stock in trade. A political commentator has written, . . . "probably 
the most important single accomplishment for the politically ambitious, 
the most effective asset they can possibly acquire, is the fine art of seeming 
to say something without doing so." 2 The leader has a marginal unique- 
ness and magnetism. 3 If he does not have these qualities and attains 
high office, his publicity men ascribe them to him. 

Breadth of sympathy is requisite for successful leadership. Con- 
temporary insecurity increases the importance of friendliness in the 
leader. In crisis situations the great humane figure becomes legendary. 
Lincoln is our most notable example. Firm in public, he was kindly and 
sympathetic in personal relations. It is difficult to feign sympathy. 
Crude though the expressions of sympathy of the urban precinct leader 
may be, they are more often than not a product of genuine human inter- 
est, as well as of political tradition. Indeed, some of the most corrupt 
of political bosses have been men of genuine and strong sympathies. 
And constituents understand and appreciate such responses, though they 
may be vague as to the allocation of city funds. Smiles, greetings, 
participation in simple human incidents, kindliness, a measure of con- 
viviality are necessary to the politician who must come in contact with 
his public. 

The leader appears as master of the situation. He is dominant and 
assured. In face-to-face situations he may be blatantly assured, as 
witness the techniques of the demagogue or revivalist. On coming 

1 Cooley, C. H., Human Nature and the Social Order, p. 319, 1902. 
8 Kent, F. R., Political Behavior, p. 73, 1928. 
* Bogardus, oz>. cit. Chap. 16. 


upon the platform the demagogue commands, "Let's try that applause 
again/' or, "I ought to get a better hand on that one," if one of his epi- 
grams fails. Of Aim<5e Semple McPherson, it is said, "As a director she 
is incomparable. While others are performing, she never for an instant 
permits interest to flag; at the first sign of restlessness she steps forward. 
'All join in with him now! Sail on!' If a young singer's voice proves 
weak and, therefore, uninspiring, Sister snatches her own tambourine and 
drives home the rhythm. Let a recitation be dull, she will advance 
beaming to inquire if it isn't grand." 1 However, browbeating is an 
unsubtle, though often an effective form of command. Mastery and 
personal ascendency depend upon a myriad of factors. Physical charac- 
teristics are important in the more visually dramatic types of situations. 
The oft-criticized studies of E. B. Gowin on the size and weight of execu- 
tives indicated that the more important executives were heavier and 
taller than the less important. 2 Though part of the differences in weight 
may be explained in terms of age and sedentary life, the differences in 
height are not so readily explained. There are fashions in preferred 
physical types, but these characteristics cannot be considered in isolation. 

A certain reserve and a modicum of mystery and inscrutability are 
characteristic of popular political leadership. 3 Mystery may be crudely 
presented, as in Hitler's assurance to mass audiences that he had the 
plans for the economic regeneration of the German Reich in the drawers 
of his desk in the Brown House in Munich. The imagination of followers 
is stimulated. Even the most frank and apparently confiding of leaders 
retains areas of reserve. The creation of mystery may be heightened by 
an inscrutable countenance, silence (von Moltke was said to be silent in 
seven languages), mysterious phrases, journeys, meetings, and the like. 
The primitive leader and folk leaders made much of mystery. Doctors, 
lawyers and religious leaders are often titillatingly inscrutable. Certain 
professors and lecturers lead their audiences on and on by the method of 
the "big secrets." The modern political leader cannot forgo this effective 
technique of power. 

The leader of large publics must be an organizer and also make astute 
use of existing organizations. Under the party system in democracies, 
the leader must have ability to function within party organizations. 
Indeed, Frank R. Kent insists that nothing will compensate for the lack 
of ability to deal with party organization. 4 Leaders of mass movements 
must competently organize their contacts with lieutenants and select 

1 Nafe, op. cit. t 1 : 250. Permission to quote granted. 

* Gowin, E. B., The Executive and His Control of Men, 1915. 

* Cooley, op. cit. The chapter on leadership is the most brilliant essay in English 
on leadership and personal ascendency. 

4 Kent, op. cit., pp. 68 ff. 



subordinates who will organize the channels of communication and of 
administration out to the most distant followers. Of course, this is all 
carried on within the values of a particular culture. When Hitler speaks, 
the German people are told that there can be no excuse for not having 
listened to every word spoken by their beloved leader. But the American 
political leader, not only of groups in power but of those striving for 
power, must be capable of organizing or of selecting lieutenants to 
organize rituals, ceremonies, public relations, subgroups, committees, 
divisions, the efficient direction of energies of followers, the briefing 
of records and a host of other directorial duties. He organizes and 

We have indicated some of the general characteristics of leaders in 
large democratic publics. In conclusion, we shall list the requisite 
qualities, as described in the writings of a number of commentators. 
None of these lists is complete or adequate, but they illustrate the existing 

Bernard: 1 

Trained experience 


Good looks 

Appearance of strength of 

Appearance of strength of 



Sense of justice 

Trait of ascendence 

Physical power 

High motility 


Erect, aggressive carriage 


Face-to-face mode of ad- 
Bogardus: 1 

Superiority complex 

Marginal uniqueness 

Fine physique 



Honesty to cause 

Good faith 




Good natural ability 



Good intellectual training 

Reinforcement of energy 
Expansiveness in field of 


High intelligence 

Mental energy and its 


Painstaking forethought 

Soundness of judgment 
Mental flexibility 
Moral vision 
Positive idealism 
Even temper 

Keenly susceptible to 

social stimulation 

Social participation 

Organizing ability 
Mental flexibility 

1 Bernard, L. L., Introduction to Social Psychology, Chap. 34, 1926. 

AUport, F. H., Social Psychology, pp. 419 ff., 1924. 

1 Borgardus, E. 8., Social Psychology, Chaps. 36-39, 1917. 


Bogardus: (Continued) 

Physical energy and endur- Emanatory Prestige 

ance Sociality 

LeBon: 1 

Keen foresight Tyranny Energy 

Conviction Will Prestige 

Perseverance intermittent Dominance 



Simplicity Judgment Courage 

Earnestness Justice Faith 

Self-control Enthusiasm Loyalty 

Assiduity Perseverance Acumen 

Common sense Tact Truthfulness 



The psychological discussion of the characteristics of personality, 
including leadership and subordination, has been carried on primarily 
in terms of "traits." Consideration of characteristic dispositions or 
traits as a "certain kind of response manifested in a particular kind of 
situation" 3 and of the listing and classifications of such traits for various 
human groupings has been hindered by the conflict between biologically 
minded psychologists and culturally minded sociologists. There are 
great individual differences, and there are great diversities of the social 
situation. To assume characteristic dispositions in particular situations 
means ignoring neither the basis of the disposition in the organism nor 
the diversity of expression of the disposition in various situations. 
Considered thus, the concept of trait is usable, just as the sociologist's 
concept of attitude is permissible. No single trait or any combination 
of traits determines behavior; the conditions of the moment are also 
decisive. Traits are discovered through inference from the individual 
functioning. The psychologist properly considers traits as the most 
reasonable units for use in the study of personality. But he must guard 
against any assumption of their existence as unvarying units. 

It is assumed, then, that there are characteristic dispositions or traits 
underlying the conduct of a person. The psychologist does not usually 
assume that the traits correspond exactly to the neuropsychic dispositions 
of individuals. Nor are traits assumed to be innate, although innate 
factors are related to some of them. In large measure, traits are acquired 
in the social experience of the individual, being determined by the pre- 

1 LeBon, op. tit., Bk. II, Chap. 3. 

* Miller, Major A. H., Leadership, Chap. 2, 1920. 

8 Murphy, G., et al, op. cit., p. 779, 1937. 


vailing values of the society. Is the businessman brusque? The social 
definition of adequate business functioning has been largely responsible. 
Is he ambitious? This characteristic, as well as the objects of his ambi- 
tion, are socially defined. Though some traits are peculiar to the indi- 
vidual, others are common to classes and groups. 

And what are the traits of leadership and domination? We have 
already noted that the characteristics of leadership depend upon the 
situation. Hence, almost any items from the complete lexicon of traits 
may apply to the leader under some conditions. How many traits are 
there? The common man as well as the psychologist uses trait names to 
designate the characteristics of personality. A large vocabulary of 
trait names has been accumulated. Allport has listed about 18,000 
such terms among the 400,000 words in Webster's New International 
Dictionary. 1 

Dispositions are inferred from behavior. And the significant behavior 
is differently designated in various cultures and periods. Allport states, 
" There is, however, a second influence determining our lexicon of trait 
names, namely, the tendency of each social epoch to characterize human 
qualities in the light of standards and interests peculiar to the times. 
Historically, the introduction of trait names can be seen to follow this 
principle of cultural (not psychological) determination to a striking 
degree." 2 The current cultural interests determine them. Allport 
relates Galenian medicine to "sanguine," "choleric," "phlegmatic," 
"good-humored"; the Protestant Reformation to "sincere," "pious," 
"bigoted," "fanatic"; eighteenth-century subjectivity to "depression," 
"daydream," "apathy," "diffidence," "embarrassment"; the present 
preoccupations are reflected in "booster," "hoodlum," "yes man," 
"climber," "chiseler," "Babbitt," etc. 

The characterization of the most important traits is often difficult. 
The traits are not wholly independent of one another. The task of 
designating them by adequate systems of terms is surrounded by many 
pitfalls. Common and individual traits require almost endless enumera- 
tion. However, the task is not always so intricate, for the significant 
traits do appear in clusters of general dispositions. The central traits 
can be identified. Those related to leadership will depend upon the 
situation, the type of group and the leadership process to be considered. 
One cannot say that Mr. Jones has 80 per cent aggressiveness and will 
be a good leader. Eighty per cent aggressiveness on a scale of 100 per 
cent may be too much aggressiveness for some situations and too little 
for others. Moreover, Mr. Jones will display varying amounts of 

1 Allport, G. W., and Odbert, H. S., "Trait Names, A Psycholexical Study," 
Psychol. Man., No. 211, 1936. 

Allport, G. W., Personality, p. 304, 1937. 


aggressiveness in different situations and may select the wrong situations 
in which to be overaggressive. And, further, the desirable amount of 
aggressiveness is also dependent upon a large number of other charac- 
teristics possessed by Mr. Jones. Abnegation is important in leaders 
of mass movements, who must not appear to be selfish and self-seeking. 
Prof. Merriam has pointed out that Gandhi, Tolstoy, Masaryk, the 
Franciscans and many others achieved power through apparent sacri- 
fice. 1 But among a group of artistic creators, sacrifice has often been 
depreciated. All this being true, the enumeration of traits, while per- 
missible, has thus far been largely unenlightening in the sociopsychologi- 
cal description of leadership. 2 


A symbol is a representative simplicity substituted for some com- 
plexity. As we noted when discussing psychological processes and 
opinion, the process of symbolizing is inevitable. The leader not only 
organizes a wide variety of symbols for his followers, but in many cases 
he himself becomes a personal symbol of paramount importance. The 
dynamic or creative leader may intermittently serve as a symbol, but 
the representative of an institution is almost wholly a group symbol. 

The principal reasons for personal representations are psychological. 
We discussed the need for personal imagery in commenting on the basis 
of stereotypes. These tags for groups and types are innumerable. 
There are popular symbols of the male and the female, the ignorant and 
the learned, the aristocrat and the boor, the rich man and the poor man, 
and so on, in the infinity of human classifications. Human variety is 
too complex for popular thinking. And so there are representative 
personal symbols. Many such figures are provided in the graphic arts. 
The cartoonist and the artist implement mass thinking by providing 
personal stereotypes. Distorted legendary figures provide many more. 
But living leaders also serve as representative figures. Roosevelt, 
Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Gandhi and King George, Einstein and Dewey, 
Lindberg and Byrd, Shaw and Wells, Pope Pius XI and Buchman, Ford 
and Morgan, Chaplin and Frohman and scores of others are dynamic 
leaders who are likewise symbols. They have caught the imagination of 
mankind. Not, in all cases, the most important leaders in their fields, 
they are none the less the representative figures. To such figures are 
related the warm emotional attachments and loyalties of masses of 
men. Questioning of the symbols is resented. But, if once they are 

1 Merriam, op. cit., pp. 239 jf. 

1 Discussions of the trait problem will be found in: Allport, G. W., op. cit., Chaps. 
11, 12; LaPiere, R. T., and Farasworth, P. R., Social Psychology, pp. 290-311, 1936; 
Murphy et ai, op. cit., pp. 274-277, 330-336, 


questioned or generally discussed as symbols, they lose a part of their 
value. The popular discussion of the meaning of Britain's kingship 
during the crisis of 1937 may have done inestimable damage to the 
prestige of the British Crown. 

The average man quests for the ideal personal figure. "The reason 
is that the function of the great and famous man is to be a symbol, 
and the real question in other minds is not so much, What are you? 
as, What can I believe you are? What can you help me to feel and be? 
How far can I use you as a symbol in the development of my instinctive 
tendency?" 1 Personal symbols are first obtained from the immediate 
environment, the father and mother, relatives and friends, but later 
the processes of communication provide a wealth of symbols from the 
general culture. 


Which leaders become symbols will be determined by the paramount 
values of the culture. The heroes of the past have been representative 
personages who have achieved dominance through strength, war, saint- 
hood, the championship of ideal values, dignified age, courageous explora- 
tion, learning, invention, industry, and the like. In primitive life the 
wise, the aged and the courageous; in the Middle Ages the knight, the 
scholar and the Saint; in Chinese culture the formal scholar; in recent 
Western civilization the captains of industry have been representative 
men. The modern authoritarian state has reemphasized the leader 
principle, with its Ftihrer and Duce. 

In the creation of contemporary symbols, modern publicity plays 
a dominant role. The process is speeded up. In the great society, 
ideas about leaders are acquired primarily from press, radio and motion 
picture. The leader symbol of the past could not emerge so suddenly for 
large publics. Moreover, although gossip, legend and rumor could 
distort the popular image of the great man, there could not be so much 
conscious propaganda of his legend. In Nazi propaganda, the build-up 
of Hitler, Goering, Goebbels, von Hindenburg, Horst Wessel and Schla- 
geter has been blatant. The way in which personalities are presented 
to the public will depend in large part upon the interests controlling 
particular sectors of the means of communication. In the following 
chapter we shall discuss the processes of legend making. 

We may illustrate the difficulty of acquiring accurate information 
about disputed figures in political life today by referring to the biographi- 
cal accounts about one young political leader in the present administra- 
tion. A number of secondary leaders have been the successive targets 
of attack by opponents of the administration. Moley, Tugwell and 

1 Cooley, C. H., op. cit., p. 341. Quoted by permission of Charles Scribaer's Sous. 


Secretary Ickes have been followed by two young lawyers, Thomas 
Corcoran and Benjamin Cohen. In the following table we have presented 
in parallel columns statements about Thomas Corcoran that appeared 
during the last six months of 1937 in five periodicals and one newspaper 
column. 1 These illustrate the various ways in which approximately the 
same information may be used to create quite different impressions. 
Such diverse results are achieved chiefly by implication. 

l ln the following excerpts, the italics are the author's. 






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We may say that legends are modified accounts of the past events and 
of historic personages, whereas myths are imaginative accounts of the 
meaning of life. . . . 

Myths and legends come down to us from the past as a part of our 
cultural heritage. . . . 

The ordinary man today is as unaware of the myths and legends about 
him as myths and legends, as is the primitive person. . . . 

The myth and legend are adult extensions of the infantile world of 
fantasy and make believe. . . . 

The process is really inevitable. If we did not have our present 
legends to hand on, we would unconsciously create others. . . . 

As we become more and more skilled in advertising and conscious 
propaganda, legend making has become more deliberate. . . . 

Whether legends are deliberate or not, the fact remains that masses of 
mankind live in these images. . . . l 

During the last half of the nineteenth century, various social theorists 
became increasingly preoccupied with the problem of myths and legends. 
Students of religious ideas and institutions, taking up the cudgels for 
rationalism, discussed the mythology of the various religious systems. 
The evolutionists studied myths and legends as an early development 
in culture history. Etymologists considered the development of myths 
as related to changes in language. Ethnologists found in the mythology 
of primitive peoples an inexhaustible source for the building up of theories 
about the past values and concepts of primitive peoples. Psychologists 
and psychoanalysts have examined mythology and found, to their 
satisfaction, evidence of persistent psychological drives. The historian 
pieced out the historic record with mythological evidence. And finally, 
by the close of the century and in xne opening decades of this century, 
certain modern beliefs were discussed in terms of mythology and legendry 
by Sorel, Pareto, Delaisi and others. 2 During the past year Prof. T. W. 
Arnold has enraged his opponents and delighted his adherents by dis- 
cussing certain aspects of the ideas about private property, corporations 

1 Young, K., Social Psychology, Chap. 17, 1930. Quoted by permission of F. S. 
Crofts & Co. 

1 Sorel, G., Reflections on Violence, 1906. 

Pareto, V., The Mind and Society (English trans.), vol. I, Section 650 ff., 1935. 
Delaisi, F., Political Myths and Economic ReaUtie*, 1928. 



and government as mythology* 1 The folklore of 1937 is a vastly more 
intriguing, but also more controversial, subject than the mythology of 
the ancient Greeks, the medieval supernaturalist or the Australian 
Arunta, the Indian Bellacoolas, the Southern Negro or the African 

A part of the beliefs and ideas of all peoples are the stories that of 
late years have been called "myths" and "legends." Among primitive 
peoples and in folk cultures the myths and legends are a part of the folk- 
lore of the people. These stories satisfy some psychological need and 
maintain cultural values. In the great society such stories are increas- 
ingly imposed by a self-conscious leadership which aims at the promulga- 
tion of some doctrine or the elevation of some individual. The terms 
"myth" and "legend" are often used synonymously. However, the 
anthropologists have come to designate as myths those stories which 
deal with the world of the supernatural. "Myths are tales of the super- 
natural world and share also, therefore, the characteristics of the religious 
complex." 2 Such tales have no factual origin. But the legend is a 
greatly exaggerated or untrue account, of some person or incident, 
that may have had some basis in fact but has been distorted in the 
telling. The legend recounts material about a person or incident; the 
myth relates to a general concept of supernatural relations or central 
folk value. All sacred books begin with myths of gods, demons, per- 
sonalized animals and various animistic conceptions. There are the 
great social myths of God-ordained rulers, economic processes, Utopias, 
and the like. In every society there is also a wealth of legendary mate- 
rial about founders or early leaders; the legends of Roland, King Arthur, 
Robin Hood, Virgil, Washington and many others. There are also 
numerous legends of incidents in a people's history. Man evidences a 
persistent tendency toward what Henri Bergson called the "fabulatory 
function," that is, the creation and maintenance of exaggerated and 
fabulous legends. And these myths and legends obviously influence 
popular opinion when their subject matter deals with topics that have 
become controversial. The legends about other peoples are a basis for 
opinion formation in international crises; legends about economic 
processes influence boards of directors; legends about racial groups 
complicate race relations; legends about personality types affect everyday 
judgments; legends about national heroes and villains influence popular 
conceptions of history. Masses of people are not aware of such stories 
as legends, although the professional thinker has been aware of some of 
the popular stories as myths and legends since the time when Aristotle 
began the verificatory process. 

1 Arnold, T. W., The Folklore of Capitalism, 1937. 
* Benedict, R., Ency. Soc. Sci., 11: 179, 




Cultural values become incorporated in the psychological functioning 
of the individual. There are also drives, impulses and instincts which, 
although modified and conditioned by human social experience, are 
characteristic of the original structure of man. In describing the bases 
of cultural products it is common to contrast the cultural and the psy- 
chological bases. We thus set up a false dichotomy, for they are often 
inextricably intertwined. At the present moment we often belabor the 
obvious in discussing psychological and cultural factors. But it seems 
necessary for a contemporary writer to do so, inasmuch as individualistic 
psychology has been so diffused in popular thought. Social systems 
control the expressions of human drives, but human drives are also in 
part responsible for certain expressions in social systems. 

The content of those accounts which we label myths and legends 
is primarily determined by the social situation and societal values, 
but it is also to some extent the product of the original nature of man. 
The individual has food hungers. When he is inadequately satisfied, 
he may create legends of bountiful fare. Paul Bunyan was a legendary 
ligure created by American lumbermen. In the cycle of stories dealing 
with Bunyan's exploits, one whole group recounts in descriptive detail 
the types and amounts of food that he provided for his lumbermen. 
This "wishful thinking" of the raconteur is in sharp contrast to the 
actually scanty fare in American lumber camps in the last century. 

The physical and psychological conditions of the upper-class South- 
erner "after the war" were wretched. It was in this period that legends 
of life "before the war" arose. Today, national stereotypes are still 
influenced by this picture the white-columned houses, the boxwood 
hedges, the charming women, the gallant men, the numerous and con- 
tented slaves. A whole class, wounded in spirit, inflated the realities 
of Southern life into a legendary melange. Sectional groups and the 
various families therein fostered the legends of their past importance. 

After the Russian Revolution, a rationalistically minded leadership 
attempted to supplant the folk preoccupation with the supernatural by 
providing naturalistic explanations. The folk resisted with a flood of 
popular stories purporting to give accounts of supernatural intervention 
in the affairs of men. For example, there was the widely told story of 
a little girl of about twelve years of age who called upon a doctor and 
asked him to come and see her mother who was desperately ill. The 
doctor said that he would call upon the mother in an hour or so. He 
did so, found the woman critically ill but thought he could save her life. 
However, he said that she should have a nurse, as her daughter was too 
small to care for her properly. "Daughter?" said the woman. "I have 


no daughter; my daughter died two days ago. She is behind that screen. " 
The doctor looked behind the screen, and there was the little girl, who 
quite obviously had been a corpse for days. Such legendary stories 
were widely disseminated. 1 

Legends develop about historic figures. Some of these legends are 
literary creations; others are folk products. Clusters of anecdotal stories 
are attached to the name of a folk hero. The stories are created or fall 
into disuse largely in terms of the prevailing values of any age. The 
"debunking" biographies of the past fifteen years have primarily 
"debunked" those items in biographical accounts that are not now in 
good repute. Legends about historic figures have utility in supporting 
the prevailing social norms and as an agency of social control. The 
legendary figure becomes a type. He personifies useful values. The 
legendary stories are developed from experiences wrongly interpreted; 
from false inferences from actual occurrences; from incidents that might 
have happened to such a person; from incidents that actually happened, 
but not to the person to whom they are ascribed (Parson Weems, first 
biographer of Washington, told the cherry-tree story about Washington ; 
this incident actually happened to Parson Weems, with the exception 
that he did tell a lie and did receive a whipping). Those things which 
augment his legend are ascribed to the legendary figure. For example, 
Virgil is a historical character, but there is also a Virgil legend. There 
were numerous legends of Virgil's birth, the most widespread of which is 
that when Virgil was born the whole city of Rome shook from end to 
end. (This satisfied the persistent folk belief that supernatural powers 
are especially concerned with superior persons. Similar legends of the 
cataclysms of nature accompanying their births have been created about 
practically all outstanding popular leaders. The Lincoln legend contains 
many such stories.) Virgil's amorous experiences became the basis of 
legend. The folk are persistently interested in this fundamental avoca- 
tion. Virgil was credited with magical powers. The folk ascribe such 
power to most legendary personages. The Virgil of legend heroically 
defied the emperor of Rome. The more popular folk heroes usually 
illustrate the wishful thinking of the masses to defy constituted 
authority. 2 

Although folk values are preeminent in determining the content of 
myths and legends, the mental processes of the originators are also 
involved. The distortion of an incident, having some basis in fact, into 
the popular legendary account is due in part to individual psychological 
processes. K. Young lists the principal psychological factors as: 

1 Duranty, W., "Off the Russian Record," Esquire, July, 1935. In this article, Mr. 
Duranty cites numerous stories of this type. 
1 Pareto, op, cit., Section 668. 


(1) The emotional state of the observers. This is usually increased at the 
time of observation, if the situation is dramatic. 

(2) Errors of perception at the time of observation. If the event is spectacu- 
lar or unfamiliar, it is more difficult to perceive it accurately. Attention will 
be limited to a few details. 

(3) Errors in recall. These are especially evident when the event is later 
being described to others. 

(4) Predispositions, the apperceptive mass of the observers. These predis- 
positions are made of old stereotypes, prejudices and legends still persisting in 
the observers. 

(5) False interpretations by the observers. As far as they imagine the 
characteristics of the observed individuals, the observers will err in interpreting 
their acts. 

(6) The time elapsing between perception and recall. After a very brief 
interval, the event as recalled differs from the actual event. As the time elapsing 
between the event and its recall increases, observers begin to add or change or 
forget innumerable details. 1 

The content of a great many myths and legends is based upon desires 
and wishes of the narrators. These desires may have been culturally 
instilled or may be relatively innate, as in the case of hunger and sex 
drives. Among the psychologists, the psychoanalysts have been espe- 
cially active in interpreting myths as symbolic expressions of suppressed 
wishes, or as frankly avowed expressions of conscious wishes of a general 
character. Desires for a glorious hereafter, for social achievement and 
prestige, for physical power and for other values are expressed in the 
mythology of various peoples. Such values are the product of cultures. 
But wish fulfillment in myths providing expression of the Oedipus com- 
plex, or of simple sexual adventure, or of the Madonna cult is more 
universal. Freud maintains that our psyche has the tendency to work 
over the world picture so that it corresponds to such wishes. Fairy 
tales, myths and legends are among the most popular expressions of such 
wish structures. For the psychoanalyst, myths represent the uncon- 
scious processes of whole groups and races. These stories have been 
adapted to the common needs of countless generations. The individu- 
ally unique elements have been eliminated, and there remain the general 
themes that are common to all the individuals of the groups. Further, 
one may analyze myth content in terms of fundamental emotions. 
Obviously, many a story is related to fear. In many Southern towns 
there are few Roman Catholics. Yet the South is a breeding ground for 
legendary stories about the church leaders, especially the Pope. Bandy- 
ing about many such stories, Senator " Tom-Tom " Heflin split the 
Democratic party in Alabama in 1928. Popular legends based upon fear 
have had persistent utility for societal leaders. 2 

1 Young, op. cii. 9 p. 440. Quoted by permission of F. S. Crofts & Co. 

1 Of course, there are other aspects of nxvth construction in addition to those we 


The legends and myths which persist in a culture are those which 
fulfill some popular wish or maintain some generally accepted social 
value. Therefore, they can best be understood in terms of particular 
cultures. The legends of a people preoccupied with struggle, action and 
competition reflect that interest. The legendary figures who impassively 
contemplate life are primarily a product of Oriental cultures. Legendary 
figures among the Plains Indians had splendid "visions/' The dominant 
values are reflected. 


The cultural basis of the content of myths and legends can be seen 
most clearly in primitive cultures. Scholars now understand that primi- 
tive legends and myths are not the product of psychological play and 
fantasy. They are the accounts and explanations of the world and its 
inhabitants and of the realm of the supernatural. As such, they have 
social utility, as they impress and systematize the fundamental notions of 
life. One of the stock pastimes of primitives is storytelling. This 
is the fundamental educational process. These myths and legends 
strengthen the traditional values by relating them to past events and to 
supernatural authority. " Behavior and attitudes become more articu- 
late in folklore than in any other cultural trait, and folklore then tends 
to crystallize and perpetuate the forms of culture that it has made 
articulate." 1 However the stories originate, those which persist are the 
accounts which reinforce some important existing value. Legends and 
myths are created to account for those aspects of the world and the 
supernatural which appear important to a primitive group at any period 
of its development. There are stories of the creator of the group, 
gods, cosmology and cosmogony; animal life and characteristics; taboo, 
magic, the dead, ghosts; heaven, hell and other-world journeys; marvels, 
tests; wise, foolish and clever persons; luck and the aleatory element; 
rewards and punishment; sex, personality traits and many others. 2 
A fighting people cherishes legends of powerful heroes; a secure people 
high-lights other values, such as wealth, cleverness or vision capacity; 
whereas a slave people compensates with stories of the shortcomings and 
limitations of their masters. Sometimes such stories may be introduced 
by a self-conscious leadership intent upon manipulating the attitudes of 
the followers, but in primitive society they are characteristically a folk 
product. In contrast to this, contemporary leadership in modern 

have mentioned. In interpreting the content of primitive mythology, Paul Radin 
makes much of the technical literary traditions of the mythmaker. See Radin, P., 
Social Anthropology, Chap. 23, 1932; Method and Theory of Ethnology, pp. 238 ff. t 1937. 

i Benedict, R., "Folklore," Ency. Soc. Set., 6: 291. 

1 See classification of primitive myths in Thompson, S., Motif Index of Folk Liter" 
ature. 1932-1936. 


Western society intentionally promulgates myths and legends for various 
purposes. A book about the adventures of Mickey Mouse and Donald 
Duck has been adopted for use in the second grade of the New York 
City schools. It is anticipated that pupils will be more interested in 
their reading lessons if these are couched in the familiar world of movie 
mythology. The political utility of a Coolidge legend is obvious. 

In the absence of naturalistic explanations, primitive man turns to 
mythological description somewhat more frequently than does contem- 
porary man. But only in certain fields. And the common man today 
reverts easily. In 1914, M. Jean Jaures, the great pie-War French 
Socialist, was assassinated by Raoul Villain. In 1938, a plane dropped 
bombs on a Spanish island where the assassin was living. Raoul Villain 
was killed. The Spanish Loyalist plane that dropped the bomb was 
named 'Mean Jaur&s." This event may be discussed in terms of chance 
elements. There are not many Loyalist planes and, of course, one of 
them was labeled 'Mean Jaur&s." However, some millions of conlem- 
porary Europeans have not chosen this explanation. 

In primitive societies, those topics which did become controversial 
and the subject of popular opinion were usually referred to the authority 
of the traditional myths and legends. Folk peoples also depend upon 
myth and legend for many of their social definitions. And the content 
of these stories is primarily a social product. The folk legends have too 
often been explained in terms of more or less uniform individual tenden- 
cies and inadequately analyzed in terms of folk values. The myths of 
the future, of heaven, hell, Valhalla, and the like, have been ascribed to 
individual longings and fears. But, although those beliefs are incorpo- 
rated in individual psychological responses, they are originally a folk 
invention to meet needs for social control. The content of various folk 
legends cannot be adequately described in terms of a few deep-seated 
individual needs. 


Legends and myths have a functional role in society. Opinions are 
influenced by the prevailing tales. The standards of primary groups, as 
well as those of the larger associations, are buttressed by such stories. 
Families, clubs, neighborhoods, gangs and numerous other primary 
groups create legends that are functionally useful in supporting dominant 
values. Most families develop legends that are used to influence the 
children and to maintain family pride and prestige in various ways. 

The role of such stories is obvious. The preciousness of the individual 
to the family and the importance of his position in the universe may be 
emphasized in family legend. Theodore Dreiser reports, "In connection 
with my own birth, I have heard both of my parents and my eldest sister 


tell of having seen, at the time my mother was laboring with the birth of 
me, three maidens (graces, shall we say) garbed in brightly colored cos- 
tumes, come up the brick walk that led from the street gate to our front 
door, into the room in which my mother lay, pass about the foot of the 
bed and finally through a rear door into a small, exitless back yard, from 
which they could have escaped only by vanishing into thin air." 1 How 
profoundly such a story would influence a small child regarding his own 
significance! The late Corra Harris recounted a delightful story of the 
enhancement of her own feeling of importance as a child by the oft- 
recounted tale of her birth. 

When I was very small and negligible I derived my first sense of importance 
from the story mother told of my birth. I was born in the company room of my 
grandfather's house, she said, and I did not miss the distinction of having arrived 
hot-footed in this chamber set aside for hospitality, on a March morning, at 
daybreak. The wind was roaring outside so fiercely the very house rocked in the 
gale. And there was great excitement inside, everybody running to and fro, 
because they were expecting me my grandparents, my father, the doctor, and 
all the servants. I seemed to know by instinct that mother was also present, 
and did not ask her about that. There were two candles burning on the mantel- 
piece, and their flames were bending with the wind that rattled the windows. If 
she forgot to mention the other candle, I interrupted her at this point in the nar- 
rative to know if one was also lighted on her candle stand, because, as far back 
as I can remember, mother had her own candle blooming softly on a small table 
by her side, and on this great occasion so personal to me, I could not bear to be 
cheated of this familiar illumination. 

" And at last you came!" she would say. Whereupon I would rise up and 
clap my hands with pride and joy. The look she gave me then, the half smile of 
a witty benediction, may have been the reason I so often entreated her to tell 
this tale again. 

"Was I very good?" I always wanted to know at once. This was really a 
touching question, because during the whole of my life I have never been praised 
much for goodness, except that which I confer upon myself by implication or 
frankly, from time to time. 

"Yes, you were good." 

"And beautiful?" I urged. 

"You were perfectly beautiful. Everyone said you were a wonderful baby." 

"And what did father say?" I must know. 

"He was speechless with admiration." As often as she assured me on that 
point I never missed the thrill of having produced this effect upon my father, 
who was rarely made speechless by anything. 2 

Certainly the theme of the intervention of Providence at one's birth 
is common enough in popular legend. But perhaps the most widespread 

3 Dreiser, T., Dawn, p. 6, 1931. 

* Harris, Corra, "The Old Penitentiary School of Childhood," Sat. Eve. Post, Feb. 
21, 1931, p. 30. Permission to quote granted. 


type of family legends has to do with the superior wealth of an ancestor 
or with his clever economic dealings. This is inevitable in a society ori- 
ented, as is ours, to prestige from wealth. We are referring here to the 
legends that are created within a family group. And the dimmer these 
stories become with age, the more they can be varied in the telling. 
Increasing distortion makes possible their use for illustration of ever more 
varied values. In addition to the legends unique in a particular family, 
each family draws upon the varied store of popular folk legend. 


The legends of primary groups relate to a relatively narrow range of 
values, whereas the scope of the subject matter of legends in the great 
society is much broader. New legends are created in connection with 
every social movement, and as the attention areas of modern man have 
widened the number of his legends has increased. The political legendry 
of primitive and folk peoples was relatively limited, dealing with a few 
folk heroes and leaders, past and present. Political legendry of man in 
the great society provides a galaxy of hundreds of legendary figures, 
taken from many national groups and from various historic periods. 

These legends are now formally transmitted in textbooks, popular 
literature, political speeches and the motion pictures. In textbooks in 
use in the American public schools there are innumerable distortions at 
variance with the best contemporary scholarship concerning prominent 
American leaders. Washington, Franklin, Adams, Hamilton, Benedict 
Arnold, Andrew Jackson, Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, and many others are 
still frequently presented in accounts that are more in accord with popular 
legendry than with historic fact. There is no need to tear down our 
national idols. But the present simplicity of presentation reflects the 
limited interests of the common man, rather than historic knowledge 
concerning these figures or our functional needs for more complex 

Moreover, as societal leadership has become more skilled in manipu- 
lating popular impressions, legend making has become more deliberate. 
In building the legend of Mr. Harold Ickes, the opposition press has 
recently been associating him with Donald Duck. Every major political 
figure is concerned, as are numbers of his skilled lieutenants, with the 
development of his legend. Sometimes such legends are created in an 
incredibly short time, as, for example, the Calvin Coolidge legend. 
And not only in the political field has the manufacture of legends become 
a highly skilled and conscious art. Businessmen and financiers, society 
women and movie stars, religious leaders and reformers, and, indeed, all 
persons who achieve a high visibility are in quest of a legend. In the 


field of entertainment, Hollywood has developed a whole industry devoted 
to legendry and gossip in the screen magazines and newspaper stories. 
The story of the stars follows the general pattern of the national fairy 
tale, of rise to fame, of material wealth and opulence, of sex and beauty. 
"The nation has turned to the worship of these picture gods, real and yet 
unreal, common as life and yet larger than life, known in minuter detail 
than the next door neighbor and yet shiningly remote, because they 
have come to represent certain national ideals reduced to the lowest 
common denominator." 1 

The particular structure of society and its pyramid of values has 
determined the legendary figures of every age. Today the process of 
legend making is accelerated and the number of legends vastly increased. 
A folk people creates as many legends as it needs in the functional activi- 
ties of its life and thought. But today, societal leadership provides a 
plethora of legendry, often more adapted and suited to the needs of the 
creators of the legends than to those of the masses who are asked to believe 

We shall briefly sketch three legends: the myth of the devil, which 
was primarily a folk product, although partly limned by the leaders of 
the church; the Lincoln legend, which contains many elements of folk 
invention and others produced by a self-conscious leadership; and the 
legend of Calvin Coolidge, which is almost entirely the product of astute 
publicity men. 


The mythologies of various peoples contain anthropomorphic devils. 
Personification of evil pervades folk thinking, and man has persistently 
imagined epic struggles between good and evil demons. Vritra, Ahriman, 
the Egyptian Set and the Christian devil, or Satan, are major evil spirits, 
but there are also a host of others. There is an evolution of the devil in 
Old Testament records. He was a fallen angel, the original tempter of 
man, the envious rival of Yahweh, and he was often conveniently identi- 
fied with the enemy's gods. 2 Under early Christianity he assumed gigan- 
tic spiritual proportions, as all the greatness of the gods of the pagan world 
were centered in him. He was everything the Christian abhorred. 
But it was in the Middle Ages that the Satan mythology became most 
elaborate and specific. In that gloomy period Satan loomed increasingly 
large in the consciousness of the folk. Terror dominated the Middle 
Ages, and mass preoccupation with the devil became most evident in the 
frenzied harassing of his earthly colleagues, the witch and the sorcerer. 
The theological concept of the devil changed rapidly through that period, 

1 Suckow, R., "Hollywood Gods and Goddesses," Harper's, July, 1936. 
1 Rudwin, M., "Diabolism." Ency* Sc. Sci., 5: 119. 


but the folk interpreted in their own values those ideas of Satan which 
the professional churchmen gave to them. "In a very great number of 
popular beliefs and folk tales, we see before us a devil profoundly different 
from the Devil of the theologians and of the ascetic legends; a devil who 
has the form and nature of a man, has a house such as men have, and 
occupations and cares such as a farmer or an artisan might have; a devil 
who eats, drinks, and wears garments; who sometimes runs into debt, 
sometimes falls ill; and who retains nothing, or but very little of his dia- 
bolic character." 1 The folk spun rapidly changing descriptions of the 
devil's nature, works, ways, appearance. 

Of the many phases of the devil's evolution and of the various aspects 
of his nature, we may choose a few illustrations to indicate the popular 
basis of this myth. The person of the devil changed with the changing 
antipathies of the mass. In the early Christian period his form was often 
that of pagan divinities, as the Christians' struggle was primarily with 
competing religions. The devil also appeared as various animals in accord- 
ance with the social reputation of those animals from age to age. The 
Trinitarian dispute is reflected in the three persons or three faces of the 
devil. In the Middle Ages, he is portrayed as a man of physical dis- 
tinction and beauty, and later, as the masses came to despise the foppish- 
ness and dandyism of the upper classes, the devil becomes a dandy in the 
refinements of his dress, beard and behavior. In the sixteenth and seven- 
teenth centuries the devout masses became ever more alienated from the 
frills, finery and fashion of their masters, and they ascribed these attributes 
to the devil. 

The popular devil was a sexual adventurer. His inhuman sexual 
prowess was attested to by thousands of hysterical women who claimed 
intimate knowledge of his ways. The witches' Sabbath was in part a 
sexual orgy. The devil also made use of beautiful and seductive women 
to tempt the faithful. If the ascetic church leaders were bedeviled with 
such imaginings, masses of people also were not loath to concern them- 
selves with these aspects of the devil's activity. And the variety of the 
mythological record rapidly increased. 

The devil was a shrewd bargainer. The notion of compacts with the 
devil developed from the tenth century onward to the Faust motif. 
People thought in terms of simple, personal bargains. Various cults of 
devil worshippers made their formal bargains with Satan. 

In the absence of naturalistic descriptions of physiological processes, 
it is understandable that the folk should ascribe much illness to the per- 
sonal activities of the devil. Through the Middle Ages, people attributed 
obscure diseases, indefinite pains, piercing sensations in the region of the 
heart, kidney pains, paralysis, impotence and many other disorders to the 

1 Graf, A., The Story of the Devil (English trans.), p. 231, 1931, 


devil's invasion of their persons. 1 Unusual psychological experiences 
and various mental diseases were ascribed to demoniacal possession. 
The physical tribulations of the churchmen were often even greater than 
were those of the common man. One abbot declared that the devil, 
"afflicted him with bloating of the stomach and with diarrhoea, with 
nausea and giddiness; so benumbed his hands that he could no longer 
make the sign of the cross made him cough, forced him to expectorate, 
hid in his bed and stopped his nostrils and mouth so that he could not 
breathe, compelled him to urinate, arid bit him like a flea." 2 

As the conflicts of the religious ideology with rationalism increased, 
the devil was associated with reason, argument, dissension and question- 
ing. " Satan was regarded as the incarnation of human reason in con- 
trast to tho Savior, who represented faith. To the dominion of the devil 
the church handed over all sciences and arts."* Folk suspicion of learn- 
ing ascribed a splendid intellectuality to Satan. 

Although church leaders used the myth of the personal devil as a 
potent moans of social control and although theologians in part guided 
the developing concept of the devil, the essential outlines of the devil 
myth through the Middle Ages were the simple ruminations of the folk. 
Later, the record of the devil's works, ways and person were essentially 
the product of the great writers, especially Dante and Milton. 4 But 
in the heyday of his earthly power, Satan was a folk myth. 


The Lincoln legends illustrate, not only the development of legends 
as a folk product, but also the increasingly conscious manipulation of 
legendary material by societal leaders, by churchmen, prohibitionists 
and politicians. The Lincoln who lives in the minds of masses of Ameri- 
cans is not the Lincoln of the biographers (eulogistic, realistic or debunk- 
ing), but a legendary Lincoln of gossipy folk' tale and of legendary stories 
promulgated by interested leaders. 

There is a plethora of folk legend. The accounts of the poverty of 
the Lincoln family have been grossly exaggerated, because the folk 
required a hero who had run the entire gamut from dire poverty to great- 
est eminence. He was born in a rude frontier community in a log cabin. 
But material wealth is relative, and in comparison with those round about 
Lincoln was not an underprivileged child. 

Hero legends usually ascribe certain elements of mystery to the 
birth of the hero. The male progenitor is often assumed to be someone 

1 Gargon, M., and Vinchon, J., The Devil, p. 82, 1930. 

2 Graf, op. cit., p. 98. 
3 Rudwin, op. cit., p. 120. 

*Tsanotf, R. A., The. Nature of Eml, pp. 170-184, 1031. 


other and greater than the legal father. Such was the case in the Lincoln 
legend. /'It was natural to wonder how so unpromising a backwoodsman 
as Thomas Lincoln could have begot so superhuman a son as Abraham. 
. . . Soon there was a feeling abroad that the hero must have had some 
author more plausible than 'Tom/ who was reputed to have been shift- 
less and dull. Inevitably there grew the myth that Lincoln's real father 
had been some greater man." 1 The willingness of masses of people to 
believe such stories made possible the organized "whispering campaigns' 1 
of the 1860 and 1864 elections. This was a natural folk legend, but it was 
spread about by political opponents. In an earlier age such a legend 
would have persisted, but with the means of communication in America 
of the nineteenth century the bastardy tale was finally scotched, but not 
until a half century after Lincoln's death. 

Folk legend made of Lincoln a model boy, never late to school, cleanly, 
quiet, honest and kind to animals. But these stories were created after 
Lincoln was prominent, great and martyred. And so, the boy had to be 
great. Undoubtedly most of the later witnesses must have been unre- 
liable. But true or false, these legends provided models for harassed 
mothers to hold before their sons. 

Lincoln's gentleness and kindness were cherished by the folk. There 
are some true stories to illustrate these qualities, which the adult Lincoln 
undoubtedly possessed. But there are scores of untrue stories. If 
they were all true, Lincoln would have spent all his time interviewing 
distracted mothers, comforting the widows and orphans, solving the 
personal problems of soldiers and issuing pardons. Historians and 
biographers have proved most of the folk legends to be untrue. But 
the folk cherished the story of the kindly ruler and embroidered ever 
new accounts. 

A heroic saga was created. The stalwart railsplitter, the adventurous 
bargeman, the heroic fighter in the Black Hawk War became legends 
long after the facts. The frontier provided a harsh life, and human 
endurance was tested. The popular record of frontier life required its 
hero symbols, and such a symbol was created from a man already great 
in political life. "What there is of the frontier hero in the great Lincoln 
of poetry and fiction, and the religious legend which they preserve, is 
spiritualized and hallowed by the simple process of omission, empha- 
sis, and invention, which has so largely biased even the biographical 
.accounts." 2 

The death of Abraham Lincoln inevitably gave rise to numerous 
legends of unusual, unnatural and supernatural occurrences. It was 

1 Lewis, L., Myths after Lincoln, pp. 368 #., 1929. 
* Basler. R. P., The Lincoln Legend, p. 147, 1935. 


said in Illinois that the brown thrush was not heard singing for a year 
after Lincoln's death. There are many such stories. 

Organized manipulation of Lincoln legends occurred in many fields. 
The most notable instance deals with the question of his religious faith. 
In the struggle between agnostics and churchmen in the closing years of 
the nineteenth century, each side collected and used stories that purported 
to align him with each. The Methodists, Quakers, and other sects 
claimed him. Their opponents gained solace from the stories told by 
Lincoln's law partner, Herndon. In the Prohibition struggle, Lincoln 
was claimed by both the wets and the drys. Lincoln was no friend of 
intoxicating drink, but there is considerable doubt as to his views on 
prohibition. The wets claimed that Lincoln had been a saloonkeeper 
in his storekeeping days. 1 Practically every social movement since 
Lincoln's day has attempted to link this magic name to its cause and in 
doing so has assiduously collected legends. 

The human and historic greatness of Abraham Lincoln has been 
distorted by legends that high-lighted those qualities which the common 
man or the special pleader has found it convenient to emphasize. 


The Coolidge legend was constructed very rapidly in the months 
immediately succeeding his elevation to the presidency. Organized 
publicity by the Republican National Committee and the less organized 
legend making of the Washington correspondents, soon limned the 
outlines of a silent, unintellectual, honest, cautious, shrewd, average 
man. The newspaper-reading public accepted and embellished the 
legend. It is now agreed that President Coolidge had the "best press" 
of any American president. Yet here was a man who, a few years earlier, 
had been considered by many party leaders as too weak and nondescript 
for the vice-presidential nomination. "Here is a sensible and normal 
man who until a few years ago was accustomed to taking political orders 
and being treated more or less indifferently, at times even contemptu- 
ously, by the party leaders in his state." 2 But shortly after Calvin 
Coolidge became president, an eminent newspaper man stated, "The 
indisputable fact is that Coolidge has to some degree been 'sold' to the 
nation, as the advertising men say, and by advertising men's methods."* 
There were more avenues of publicity than ever before: the radio was 
developing, the country was entering into a prosperous period, legend 
making by publicity was becoming more astute, the nation required a 

1 Odegard, P., Pressure Politics, p. 61, 1928. 

'Sharp, W., "President and Press/ 1 Atlantic, 140: 239. 

1 Bliven, B., "The Great Coolidge Mystery," Harper's, 52: 45. 


symbol of cautious conservatism, and the new President fitted, or could 
be made, to fit, the need. And so, from that August morning in 1923 
when the American people saw the lean face of their new President 
in the light of his father's kerosene lamp in a Vermont farmhouse, the 
legend grew. 

From the beginning, the Washington correspondents praised ami 
protected him. Why? F. R. Kent declares that reporters inflate 
important public figures, magnifying their good qualities and minimizing 
defects for two reasons. "The first is a more or less psychological one 
a tendency, springing from the inferiority complex of the reporter and 
born of his poor pay and precarious position, to permit the public official 
to assume the superior or dominant attitude. . . . The second reason is a 
simple and practical one. The reporter's business is to get news. The 
more news he gets the more secure his job and the greater his value to 
the paper. The public official has what the reporter has to have, to wit, 
news." 1 He further states, "Not in the memory of anyone now living 
has there been a President who leaned so heavily on this newspaper 
tendency to praise and protect, who profited by it so much, who would 
shrivel so quickly if he lost it, as Calvin Coolidge." The newspaper men 
built the legend, but they built it for a receptive and acquiescent public. 

What were the outlines of the legend? One of the principal strands 
in the tradition of this President was built of the innumerable stories 
of his silence. Historically, silence has often been noted in leaders and 
attributed to a sphinxlike wisdom. In personal relations President 
Coolidge was undoubtedly taciturn. Bruce Bliven says that this 
characteristic was magnified by newspaper men because it was in such 
startling contrast to their own volubility. "The trait is particularly 
puzzling to the newspaper men who come in closest contact with him and 
who write what the public reads about him, they being invariably expert 
an,d incessant conversationalists. 7 ' 2 And certainly the President was 
not given to small talk. The American public hesitated for a moment 
in its chatter and was filled with wonder. A man must be profound to 
so control his speech. And then the flood of anecdotes began. It was 
said that when Coolidge was four years of age he was sitting quietly with 
his father and his grandfather. The grandfather spoke. "John/' he 
said, "Cal don't say much." "No," said John, "Calvin, he ain't 
gabby." They smiled at each other. Neither were they. 3 Certainly 
in public life, Mr. Coolidge was not a silent man. lie spoke for hours on 
end, he wrote lengthy addresses to Congress, he wrote extensively. "Wo 
can begin with the fact that Mr. Coolidge not only talks in public fre- 

l Kent, F. R., "Mr. Coolidge," Am. Mercury, 2: 386. 

8 Bliven, op. cit., p. 48. 

* Rogers, C., The Legend of Calvin Coolidge, p. 11, 1928. 


quently (265 times a year), but talks at length. His formal addresses 
are not snapped off short. They average something more than thirty- 
seven hundred words apiece." 1 But there was no glib loquaciousness 
in this man. And the bulk of the general public cherished the legend. 

Another strand of the legend was the account of his lack of flexible 
intellectuality. This was well received by a public who were in general 
suspicious of flashing intellects and among whom a too high order of 
intelligence was suspect. Emphasis was placed on good intentions, 
conservative thinking, character and solidity. 

Again, inaction was counted a virtue, and many stories were told 
to indicate that the President was not given to waste motion or a thrusting 
aggressiveness aimed at any new solution of economic and political 
problems. In a prosperous period the maintenance of the status quo 
was at a great premium. The President was portrayed as nursing 
prosperity by encouraging thrift and balancing the nation's books, 
tlxperimentalism was not considered a virtue in the 1920's. There was 
little popular demand for constructive solutions. 

Much was made of the fact that the President was an "average 
man." Stories of his simple tastes in housing, food and daily living 
were spread abroad. His ethical standards and values were portrayed* 
as simple and traditional. Here was no theorist ranting of the "new 
morality." "The average American saw in Coolidge just the virtues 
that wore supposed to constitute the American ideal and supposed to 
have made America. Coolidge incarnated thrift, self-denial, plain and 
simple living, straightforward, hard-headed honesty. The average 
American had heard that his fathers had these virtues and had made a 
groat nation by moans of them." 2 

The President was portrayed as honest, cautious and shrewd. Hon- 
esty was especially stressed in comparison with the notorious scandals 
of the preceding administration. Stories were told of his meticulous 
and sometimes picayunish honesty. Cautiousness was prized in a 
period when there was a high level of national income. Shrewdness 
may be a limited virtue at best, but it is highly valued in a nation that 
developed this emphasis in the trading, haggling, small-bargaining, 
horse-trading, tricking days of nineteenth-century expansion. 

The stage was set for the Coolidge legend. It was easy to star 
President Coolidge because he had to a considerable extent many of the 
characteristics ascribed to him. Lack of color helped rather than 
hindered the rapid growth of the legend. "In the absence of a national 
crisis and in a time of prosperity his lack of strength is an asset rather 
than a liability, provided he has sufficiently powerful press support and 

1 Mertz, C., "The Silent Mr. Coolidge." New Republic, 47: 51. 
* Bradford, G., "The Genius of tha Average," Atlantic, 145: 6. 


the approval of the great business interests and no President of OUT 
time has had both to the same extent." 1 President Coolidge permitted 
the growth of his legend. The press agents and the correspondents 
painted a distorted picture of him, but, in fairness, it must be noted that 
he did not actively pretend to qualities he did not possess. 

Every age has myths and legends which are defended and propagated 
by the believers. Transmitted into simple myth and personal legendry 
these stories are symbols for masses of mankind. They are types of 
simplification. As such these popular stereotypes are constantly utilized 
in the opinion process. They are psychologically inevitable in the 
thinking of the common man about leaders and heroes, enemies and 
friends, and religious, political, philosophical and psychological ideas. 
They are a part of family, group and national traditions. 

These myths and legends may or may not partly correspond to objec- 
tive reality. In his Political Myths and Economic Realities, F. Delaisi 
contrasts the Christian myth, the feudal myth, the papal myth, the 
monarchical myth and the democratic myth with the economic realities. 
But systems of ideas have their own reality. In retrospect, the expert 
'may discuss the utility that a system of ideas had for a particular culture. 
He may consider these as relative and transitory. But to an individual 
enmeshed in a particular ideology it has an absolute value and is con- 
sidered immortal. A part of the ideology is the accompanying myths and 
legends. Sorel discussed the "myth" of the general strike, but he con- 
sidered this idea to have a central function in the whole Socialist move- 
ment. The adherents of that movement did not discuss this idea as 

Today, leaders promulgate myths and legends in a more conscious, 
organized and orderly fashion. New means of communication have 
aided the unification of large publics under common ideologies with 
their accompanying myths and legends. An increasing proliferation 
of myths and legends may be anticipated. Many people vaguely sense 
the sterility for life processes of much of objective science. They are 
thrusting strongly for a more satisfying ideology as a basis for human 
social relations. Scientific leaders of the nineteenth century pursued 
objectivity with a vigorous enthusiasm that was in itself not objective 
but was humanly satisfying. They infected large publics with their 
faiths and hopes. But now there is a demand for a renewal of satisfying 
belief. And man begins once more the ancient task of spinning his sub- 
jective ideologies, more and more divorced from objective realities. 
Dramas become internal. Stereotyped heroes and legendary villains, 
personalized symbols of the perturbing, conflicting elements, are provided 

* Kent, F. R., "In Weakness There Is Strength," The Nation, 124; 167, 


by interest groups for the general publics. The satisfactions that so 
many people cannot find in human relations are to be vicariously enjoyed 
in the world of imagination. The function of legends is not only to 
provide a basis for objective actions but also to satisfy psychological 
needs. And the tempo of changing needs and changing myths and 
legends is increasing. 


You can do anything with bayonets save to sit on them. 1 

Societies restrain, threaten and discipline their members and minority 
groups with varying proportions of psychological and physical compul- 
sion. Cultures differ greatly in their relative use of physical coercion 
and violence. The individual has been subjected to beatings, injury 
with weapons, many forms of torture, crucifixion, starving, stoning, 
suffocation, burnings, breakings on the wheel and rack, hanging, elec- 
trocution, assassination and many other forms of physical coercion. 
The individual's attitudes and opinions regarding these procedures 
reflect the standards and values of his groups and culture in his time and 
place. Torturings and public burnings conducted by representatives 
of the religion of the gentle Christ may not appear inconsistent to a 
populace daily accustomed to other forms of violence. In both the 
simpler and more complex cultures, physical force and violence have 
been prevalent but not universal. 

There have been many attempts to generalize about the uses of 
physical coercion in the social process. Observing the ways of life and 
reviewing the historic record, the social theorists, philosophers and 
psychologists of the Western world in the nineteenth century quite 
generally ascribed the prevalent physical coercion to inherent drives. 
Man was viewed as a fighting animal motivated by an instinct of pug- 
nacity. Social Darwinism ascribed a high survival value to those gener- 
ously equipped with this drive. The social philosophers, impressed 
by the pervasive "struggle for existence/' frequently overestimated, 
though they deplored, prevalence of conflict and of physical force in 
society. 2 From another frame of reference, conflict was minimized 

1 Talleyrand. 

2 This emphasis on the pervasiveness of conflict arid force in society had preceded 
Darwinian evolution. As Miller, E. T., Principles of Sociology , p. 271, 1933, has 
noted, "These beliefs were given systematic expression by Machiavelli, Bodin, 
Hobbes and others, who helped to justify the imperialism of aristocracies and thus 
contributed to the later popularity of a distorted application of Darwinian theories to 
human society. 1 ' However, the later theorists were somewhat more systematic, 
namely: Gumplowicz, L., Der Rassenkampf, 1883; Ratzenhofer, G., Die Sociologische 
Erkenntnis, 1898; Schaffle, A. E. F., Bau und Leben des Socialen Korpers, vol. I, 
pn- 391-527, 1875-1878. Many scores of commentators may be listed in the history 



and general cooperation, sympathetic responses and humanitarianism 
were assumed to be based on a more dominant innate drive. 1 Kropotkin, 
Tolstoy and others maintained that fighting, violence and physical 
coercion were perversions from man's original pacific tendencies. On 
both sides of this controversy, which raged at the close of the last century, 
books were produced filled with selected illustrations from the behavior 
of other species and of man in the simpler cultures. And on both sides 
there was exhibited the philosopher's tendency to project his under- 
standing of his own nature into the realm of universal generalizations. 
The majority of the intellectuals of the nineteenth century preferred 
types of conflict other than physical coercion. As Wyndham Lewis 
has noted: 

The philosopher at all times is opposed to violence; at least it is very seldom 
that he is not, Sorel and Nietzsche being exceptions. The philosophic man 
inveighs against violence ostensibly on other peoples' behalf. Really he is 
speaking for himself; not only has he no mandate, but he would be found on 
careful investigation not to have the sanction of life for his humane intentions. 
. . . The philosopher is apt to regard life as precious and full of mysterious power 
and sanctity, because his own is full of interest and vitality. That is probably 
not the general view; most people cannot develop any such flattering conception 
of their personal existence. 2 

The psychologists were usually much more specific than the philoso- 
phers regarding the nature of this "innate drive." Although many 
psychologists differentiate between biologically defined instincts and 
culturally conditioned drives, the majority have usually emphasized 
the physiological bases of antagonisms and the use of physical force in 
conflict situations. The sociologist would most often agree with W. I. 
Thomas that "while there are in fact no 'instincts' in the sense of specific 
internal entities or prompters of the release of specific forms of activity, 
the unlearned behavior reactions may be referred to as 'instinctive' or 
'instinctual.'" 3 Although the various social scientists disagree as to 
the relative importance of the organic mechanism in explaining complex 
conflict behavior in adults, they would agree that the unconditioned 
reactions of the organism provide some basis for the use of physical force. 4 
Anger, fear and other emotional responses including that which recently 

of conflict theory. A critical analysis of their positions appears in Sorokin, P., 
Contemporary Sociological Theories, Chap. 6, 1928. 

1 Kropotkin, P., Mutual Aid, 1903. 

'Lewis, W., The Art of Being Ruled, p. 65, 1926. Reprinted by permission of 
Harper & Brothers. 

8 Thomas, W. I., Primitive Behavior, p. 23, 1937. 

4 McDougall, W., Introduction to Social Psychology, 1909; c/. Filler, op. cit., Chap. 


has been so loosely termed " sadism " are involved. "Sadism is a term 
identified with the hurting of, or injury of the person who is the object 
of an individual's amatory desires. " l But sadism is now often popularly 
used as a blanket term for motivation not only of all kinds of violent 
physical aggression on children, adults, members of the opposite sex, 
animals, but also of enjoyment of prize fights, and the like. There 
are individual responses that emanate from innate psychological bases 
for appreciation of the use of violent physical aggressions. But no 
single term will cover this complex. Intrinsic determination is increas- 
ingly seen as less exact and specific. 

The cultural standards determine the extent and ways in which 
these tendencies are expressed, inhibited or sublimated. Moreover, 
the standards will be differentiated for age, sex, class and other societal 
positions. Children tease and torture pets in ways that would be con- 
sidered inexcusable in adults. Males use violence at times when it would 
be deprecated in the female. The military man may be expected to use 
violence. "Wh?n the commanding officer of one of the Guards Regi- 
ments which made the palace revolution and set Empress Catherine 
on the throne of all the Russias called upon his men to give three cheers 
for their new mistress they shouted 'We won't serve a baba a female/ 
The colonel thereupon nearly felled the man nearest him with a formidable 
clout on the ear. The cheers were then heartily given, for as the men 
said, the thing had been properly explained to them/' 2 

Violence may be consciously cultivated. 3 Gang members, swaggering 
officers, labor leaders, managers of prisoners and many others may 
develop "hard-boiledness," thereby gaining prestige in the opinions of their 
fellows. Ability to give and to take punishment may be esteemed. 

Violence is very evident in some cultures and almost nonexistent in 
others. Although it is functionally related to other types of behavior and 
standards in a culture, it is not directly related to the complexity or state 
of development of a culture. No valid generalizations have been 
adduced to indicate such relationship. Some quite simple peoples are 
quite violent, but so are members of complex cultures. 

Force may be used on members of the out-groups (wars, raids, slavery, 
etc.), on in-group members (discipline, personal conflict, etc.), on both 
or on neither. Space does not permit a summary of ethnological litera- 
ture on this point, but we shall select a few illustrations . War 

1 Dorcus, R. M., and Shaffer, G. W., Abnormal Psychology, p. 144, 1934. 

1 Broderick, A. H., World Digest, March, 1937. Permission to quote granted. 

8 The term "violence" is sometimes distinguished from other forms of physical 
coercion, as being an illegal use of force (see Ency. Soc. Sd.). However, this distinc- 
tion is not consistently used in the literature of the social sciences, and the author 
is here using the terms interchangeably. 


plays a prominent part in the lives of some primitive peoples, notably 
the African Negro tribes; North American Indians, especially Plains 
Indians, South American Indians and many groups of Pacific Islanders. 
There are a number of notable cases where war does not exist. Prof. 
Boas reported in his early studies of the Eskimo that real wars or fights 
between settlements did not. occur. The Todas of India, the Kubas of 
Sumatra, most Australian groups and a number of other tribes have no 
pattern of forceful conflict with those round about. 1 Although warfare 
is often conducted for the means of subsistence, for religious motives and 
for women and slaves, it is also frequently carried on for glory and prestige. 
Historically, national groups have likewise fought wars for various 
objectives. At one era of world history there is the dream of universal 
dominion, at another the conquest of lands; again the religious struggles 
dominate, and trade wars have characterized the modern period. 2 
Whatever the motives for conflict, they are incorporated in individual 
attitudes and expressed in popular opinion. 

The frequency of violence within a culture usually reflects the amount 
of force used on outside groups. Peoples become accustomed to forcible 
coercion and utilize it on women, children, inferiors and enemies. Mar- 
garet Mead has recently contrasted the way of life in several New 
Guinea tribes. 8 The Arapesh, living on infertile hills, are isolated. Free 
from aggression from outside, without need of sturdy defenders, the per- 
sonality types prized among them are characterized by passivity, respon- 
siveness, physical sympathy and cooperativeness. Both men and women 
develop these traits. Sensuous physical responsiveness to living things 
is characteristic of both men and women. Children are fondled by the 
hour. Violent individuals are deprecated and restrained when they 
occasionally develop such divergent behavior. Anger is played down. 
The fear and discomfort resulting from any expression of anger is worked 
into a pattern of sorcery to frighten and restrain the angered person. 
The general policy of Arapesh society is to punish those who are indiscreet 
enough to become involved in any kind of violent scene. Popular opinion 
opposes physical coercion. On the other hand, the Mundugumor of the 
Sepik River emphasize violence and daily conflict. They inhabit a 
fertile land which they have had to defend. They train both sexes with 
a Spartan vigor. Children are beaten, blows are exchanged between 
men and women. Brothers speak only under ceremonial conditions. 
Fighting the out-groups and head-hunting traditional enemies are a 

1 Davie, M., Evolution of War, Chap. 4, 1929. 

Sumner, W. G., and Keller, A. G., Science of Society, vol. II, 1927. 
1 Johnson, A., "The International House of Cards," Yale Rev., 25: 433-442. 
8 Mead, M., Sex and Temperament in Primitive Society, pp. 433-442, 1936. See 
also Conflict and Cooperation in Primitive Society (Mead, M., ed.), 1937. 


seasonal occurrence. Within the group, social organization is based on 
mutual ^hostility. Individuals value personal liberty and fight interfer- 
ence. The sympathetic individual is considered to be weak. Popular 
opinion supports these violent practices. Admittedly, these are extreme 
illustrations, but it is evident that wide differences exist between cultures 
in their patterns of violence. 

Physical violence may prevail in the daily life of a people. Life in 
the medieval barony was a rough, roistering existence. The fighting 
men had reckless brawls and then quickly came to agreement. The 
knight would not hesitate to kick or pummel a servitor. Torture was 
frequently inflicted on enemies and captives. Cooks and chiefs of 
sections would chase varlets from the kitchen. Ladies, on occasion, 
would smite their maids. And it is reported that, "many a noble 
lady can answer her husband's fist with a rousing box on the ear, and if 
he is not a courageous man, make him quail and surrender before her." 1 
In a culture thus suffused with physical coercion, the use of force is 
naturally supported by attitudes and popular opinion. 


As in some cultures force and violence may be used to dramatize an 
issue and otherwise affect the more general public opinion, so, elsewhere, 
when the values of the culture depreciate physical force, forms of passive 
resistance may be used to coerce an opponent and arouse a public opinion. 
Oriental peoples have quite generally used passive resistance. To the 
West it is alien and has been used only sporadically by a few minority 
groups, usually with indifferent success. Conscientious objectors, 
Quakers, female hunger strikers in the woman's movement, and some 
minor religious sects have eschewed force. 

The peoples of the West are best acquainted with passive resistance 
and noncooperation as used in the Orient through Gandhi's campaigns 
in India. Mass passive resistance was widely used in the Indian inde- 
pendence movement. There, violence by authority was frequently met 
by mass demonstrations of passive resistance, when thousands of people, 
bent 011 demonstrating at a forbidden place, would march to that place, 
preceded by their own ambulances, and stand calmly and with disci- 
plined dignity until knocked over by the police. Such stoical composure 
aroused widespread admiration among their fellows. But American and 
English audiences, seeing in the newsreels flashes of brutal violence used 
by the police to disperse Indian crowds, no doubt usually responded with 
mixed feelings of physical sympathy for the injured and rather disdainful 
irritation at them for permitting themselves to be hurt. In general, 
passive resistance has been rather ineffective in arousing more than 

1 Davis, W. S., Life on a Mediaeval Barony, p. 76. 1923. 


temporary sympathetic response from American publics. Humanitarian 
responses are largely canceled by the tradition of self-reliant use of 
violence as a weapon. There is little popular understanding of the sig- 
nificance of passive resistance used as tactics in social conflict. The 
effectiveness of Gandhi's campaign in India has not as yet been ade- 
quately evaluated by those acquainted with the situation; therefore we 
cannot generalize about its use in the Orient. 1 However, even wide- 
spread passive resistance by some minority group in the United States 
would probably not win popular support here. Even in the Orient, 
H. N. Brailsford concludes that it is "in theory irresistible, in practice very 
difficult," as a political technique, because of the rare degree of solidarity 
required for its successful use. 2 In cases of individual conflict it is 
indubitably successful at times. In Japan and India, fasting on the 
doorstep of an enemy or of one who has injured the faster has been 
common. Popular opinion humiliates the object of such attentions. 

One form of nonviolent coercion used somewhat of late years in 
Western nations is the hunger strike. From 1909 onward, hundreds of 
Englishwomen endured the hunger strike when they were sent to prison 
for their activities in the suffrage movement. The Irish have used this 
technique extensively in their political struggles. In the United States 
there have been but relatively few cases of such protest. It was used 
somewhat in the suffragette and birth-control reform movements. For- 
cible feeding aroused considerable public outcry. The objective of the 
hunger strike is publicity and appeal to popular opinion. The intensity 
of the convictions of the strikers is dramatically evidenced by their 
willingness to die for crimes not deserving of death. However, as it 
becomes less of a novelty the publicity value is partly lost. 

The sit-down strike is a technique of nonviolent coercion recently 
developed for American labor by the CIO. It is claimed that it reduces 
the amount of violence, as strike-breaking thugs are not imported. First 
widely publicized in the General Motors-CIO controversy of 1937, the sit- 
down strike spread rapidly to many industries. Under existing laws it is 
clearly an illegal trespass on private property and the threat of union 
seizure by means of the sit-down strike could easily be met by the injunc- 
tion and arrest. However, during the early months of such strikes, 
it was usually considered inexpedient to attempt to eject strikers, as the 
state of popular opinion was not definitely known. Employers were 
hesitant. Many labor leaders also were fearful of this new technique. 
They could see how a too widespread wave of sit-down strikes (some of 
which might be staged by agents provocateurs) could discredit the unions. 

1 Ency. Soc. Sci. t 12: 13. 

* The most extensive discussion in English is Gregg, R. B. t The Power of Non- 
Violence, 1934. 


A too rapidly successful labor movement may arouse popular opposition. 
English Jabor overplayed its hand in the general strike of 1926 and has 
never recovered from the unfavorable popular reaction. The general 
public was confused by the new technique of sit-down strikes. The 
implications, in terms of labor dominance or defeat, upon the general 
price levels and many other issues were not clearly seen. A dominant 
public opinion had not emerged. 

On the basis of theory, many have been intrigued by the possibilities 
of various forms of passive resistance and nonviolent coercion. It has 
been espoused both in the humanitarian flight from physical force and 
through the recognition that force does not achieve permanent solutions. 
Moreover, nonviolent coercion and passive resistance are possible meth- 
ods for masses ill-equipped for the refinements of violence. Its advocates 
laud the essential justice of such procedure. It is less often pointed out 
that, if successful, nonviolent coercion could be directed to unjust ends. 
Indeed, all other successful techniques of social conflict at times have 
been unjustly used. The enthusiasts for nonviolence neglect this aspect. 
However, there is no immediate danger of such abuse; for nonviolent 
means require a discipline, an integrity, endurance and a group solidarity 
that are but little developed and practiced in American life. The aim 
of nonviolent tactics is to convert or defeat the opponent by changing 
the conflict from one plane to another and by appealing to him and to the 
general public. There is the attempt to arouse sympathy and admiration 
for suffering bravely endured under disciplined conditions. But the 
technique must be appreciated by the general public if the opponent is 
to be successfully coerced. And how alien to the Western mind is a 
real belief in nonviolence! A case in point is the ethical confusion of 
children confronted with the idea that if smitten on one cheek they 
should turn the other. Conscientious objectors, hunger strikers and 
various types of passive resisters have not aroused widespread admiration 
and sympathy in the United States. 1 


Organized social revolt has often been accompanied by violence. 
Frequently social changes have been thus dramatically introduced. 
Many times when violence was not used, the threat of force was a potent 
factor in the background. Where large publics are concerned and masses 
are aroused, violence has been the almost invariable concomitant of 
social reform and revolution. In this way, organized movements have 
usually acquired their legendary leaders, their personal martyr symbols 
and an excitingly dramatic context. 

1 For a summary of techniques with historic illustrations, see Case, C. M., Non 
Violent Coercion, 1023; a recent discussion is in Gregg, op. cit. 


The labor movement has not varied from this general pattern. Min- 
orities, with a philosophic and theoretical tradition that violence is tho 
only way to bring about social change, have usually been present at the 
major clashes between labor and employers or authority and have often 
precipitated conflict. In the United States there have been many violent 
incidents during strikes, especially in the clothing and textile industries, 
the building trades, coal mining and the steel industry. The bloody wars 
at the Colorado mines, the Pullman strike, the Herrin massacre, the 
Homestead strike and many others are tragic pages in the history of 
labor conflict. Force has been used upon strikebreakers or scabs, upon 
strikers, upon police, both public and private, and infrequently upon 
employers. Both or all sides usually repudiate any intent to use violence, 
maintaining that they were driven to it by circumstances or as a defense 
measure. Even that organization which the general public associates 
most often with violent methods and intent formally repudiates force 
in its public statements. The Industrial Workers of the World in 1920 
stated that the organization did not then and never had believed in or 
advocated either destruction or violence as a means of accomplishing 
industrial reform. 1 The Socialist movement in England waged a long 
struggle against the use of violence by its members even in the face of 
organized violence by governments and the private armies of opponents. 2 
On the tactical basis it was early recognized that violence and terroristic 
acts brought popular revulsion when used in England or the United 
States. Socialism has more and more diverged from the principle of 
violence and espoused passive resistance, moral resistance, strikes, 
economic penalties, education and propaganda. 

Although physical force has usually been repudiated by organized 
labor groups and by responsible leaders, in practice violence has often 
been used by labor to control strikebreakers, as a gesture in strategy, 
during the conflicts of picketing, because of emotional hatred of the 
enemy, to dramatize the issue and to affect general public opinion. 
Often strikebreakers or scabs may be intimidated by threats of violence 
or by use of physical force when persuasion has proved ineffective. 
Physical injury and pain may be understood when argument fails. At 
first such violence may be quite tentative, threatened blows and imitation 
of acts of violence, until the cumulative intensity of emotional stresses 
causes certain individuals, meeting with resistance, to begin the fight, 
although it was originally intended that physical force would be merely 
threatened. 8 Indeed, if large groups are involved it is very difficult to 

1 Gambs, J. S., The Decline of the I.W.W., Appendix II, 1932. 
1 The history of this struggle has been ably recounted in Hunter, R., Violence and 
the Labor Movement, 1014. 

Hiller, E. T., The Strike, pp. 108-111, 1928. 


use threatened violence as a gesture in strategy. In conflict situations 
the individual may sometimes do so, if schooled in the control of his 
emotional responses. However, in large crowds there are always impul- 
sive persons who are difficult to control. Entirely aside from the ethical 
problem of violence, the technique of strategy necessitates caution in the 
use of tentative violence as a gesture. Many bloody fights have resulted 
from the leaders 1 loss of control while attempting this tactic. Picketing, 
especially in the early days of labor disputes, was often successful because 
of the intimidation of the strikebreakers by threats of violence. Many 
<rourt decisions now define the rights of the strikebreaker to freedom not 
only from intimidation but also from annoying importunity. 1 

Among the objectives of violence in the labor movement are the 
control of scabs, intimidation, the defense of picketers, revenge on the 
police and publicity. Employers utilize violence in order to continue 
operations, to intimidate, to remove the leaders of the strike, and to 
prevent communication. Publicizing of their violent deeds may promote 
solidarity within the striking group, raise up new popular leaders from 
the rank and file, and above all draw attention to the struggle so that 
the larger public may become involved, especially through the creation 
of a favorable and sympathetic popular opinion. 

The opinion of the immediate community and of the larger national 
public is often the deciding factor in an industrial dispute. Each side, 
intent upon discrediting the other, appeals to the fears and prejudices 
of the larger publics. To convict the other side of unprovoked and ruth- 
less violence often causes a wave of indignation and revulsion against 
them. Of the famous steel strike of 1919 it has been reported: 

Preceding and during the strike both sides in the hostilities employed all 
sorts of devices all of them well known in industrial struggle to influence public 
opinion and to break the power of their opponents. . . . The Corporation 
attempted to discredit the movement by alleging . . . that its real objects were 
the overthrow of established leaders and established institutions of organized 
labor and perhaps the overthrow of the established government of the country. 
. . . The hue and cry raised in every district where the strike was in effect; the 
parading of strike breakers through the streets; the mobilizing of Federal troops 
in Gary, Indiana district ; the occupation of troubled areas by state militia and in 
Western Pennsylvania by State Constabulary; the spreading of subversive reports 
of "bloody riots " and "red revolution 1 '; the breaking-up of picket lines and 
peaceful gatherings of strikers; the holding of huge anti-strike mass meetings 
in the open air; and raids upon union halls, the homes of some of the strikers, 
and certain offices of the labor press, were designed to impress the public and 
terrorize the strikers. . . . Charges were made against the strikers that they 
were guilty of intimidating non-striking workmen and inciting to riot. 2 

' Ibid., p. 118. 

2 Adapted from Dawson, C. A., and Gettys, W. B., Introduction to Sociology, 
pp, 526-. fl >2$, 1935, Quoted by pirmi<rion of the Ronald Prej?a Company. 


Despite the general American tradition of violence, the larger publics 
are frequently repelled by its use in labor controversies. This often 
results from the way in which the occasions of violence are reported by 
the newspapers. 1 Yet, as we have noted, violence has other uses than 
that of influencing popular opinion one way or the other. And violence 
has been widely used in the American labor movement. 2 


Coercion by physical violence has been practiced at times by organized 
religious institutions, as well as by the fanatically faithful, in curbing the 
free expression of alien religious beliefs and in maintaining or inculcating 
the one true faith. This is evidenced in religious wars, crusades and 
jehads against alien religions; in the forcible conversion of individuals of 
other culture groups, of which the history of European contact with 
native peoples in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries gives ample 
illustration; in the discipline or annihilation of the variant from the faith. 
The most organized example of this last is the Inquisition. 

Deviation from accepted religious teachings through the holding of 
and defense of opinions contrary thereto was called heresy by the medi- 
eval church. The Inquisition was an elaborate institution for the punish- 
ment of and suppression of heresy. Physical force came to be extensively 
used in repressing heresies, such as the Albigensian movement (Catharism 
in the south of France) and the Waldensians in Italy. In addition there 
was the persistent struggle with the devious ways and practices of the 
witch and the wizard. The witch was usually considered far more 
dangerous than the wizard, and there were a great many more of them. 
The popular conceptions of the witch were molded and colored by the 
findings of the church inquisitors during the fifteenth century. The evil 
heresies of the witches increasingly were supposed to include sexual 
aberrations, the orgy of the witches' Sabbath and congress with the devil. 
Thus, in part, the particular psychological fears and phobias of their 
judges were projected upon the witches, who in turn accepted the sug- 
gestions and unfolded more and more lurid detail. 3 Increasingly, force 
was used to extort confessions. The rack, the thumbscrew and the 
various ingenious tortures of the period were used to extract the so-called 
"voluntary" confessions. Burnings became more frequent. By the 
middle of the fifteenth century an aroused public, angry and desperately 
fearful, began that popular madness of witch hunting which was to last 
two centuries. The total number of victims, during those centuries, has 

1 See Seldes, G., The Freedom of the Press, 1935. 

* The historic record of violence in the labor movement is developed in Hunter, 
op. cit., and especially in Adamic, L., Dynamite (revised ed.), 1934. 

1 For an excellent literary description of the witches' Sabbath, see Merejkowski 
D,, Leonardo da Vind. Bk, IV, 


been variously estimated from one hundred thousand to several hundred 
thousand. Attempts at forcible suppression, far from decreasing the 
heresy of witchcraft, made of it a mass delusion on a large scale and drew 
into the ranks of the eventual victims hordes of mentally aberrant and 
deranged women whose vivid hallucinations were made of the stuff of 
popular beliefs and the ghostly world of their questioners. And the 
excesses of physical violence further distorted the psychological processes. 
However, violence was used by the church in dealing with heresy 
long before the persecution of the witches. The eleventh and twelfth 
centuries were characterized by a revival of learning and with that 
learning the emergence of various heresies. The problem of eliminating 
them became ever more difficult. Physical force was used informally 
by the orthodox and by heretics, by civil rulers and by mob violence, but 
not formally by ecclesiastical authority. During this period, church 
authorities frequently incited the mob to acts of violence; it was therefore 
not necessary for the religious institution to develop more formal tech- 
niques. 1 But by the thirteenth century the scene had changed. The 
more cultured people of western Europe were losing faith; in some sec- 
tions heresy was endemic. And heresy was becoming organized. The 
Waldensianjs were founded about 1179. They renewed the popular 
preaching of sermons that the church had permitted to fall into disuse and 
attempted many reforms including poverty and renunciation of authority. 
The Albigensian heresy developed in the early eleventh century, its leaders 
asserting the existence of good and evil deities; their contempt for the 
church, its sacraments, the doctrine of transubstantiation; in general, 
their abhorrence of all forms of symbolism. The Albigenses were the 
first of the heretics to be burned at the stake. 2 They denied the indi- 
vidual's right to take life, human or animal. They also deprecated 
sexual experience. Hence, a suspect, in his defense before a tribunal, 
logically declared, "Hear me, my lords! I am no heretic, for I have a 
wife, and cohabit with her, and have children; and I eat flesh and lie 
and swear and am a faithful Christian." 3 Other sects multiplied, and 
civil authorities became more lenient toward them. For the most part 
the feudal rulers who knew the heretics well did not object to them as 
subjects, although violence was sometimes resorted to by the lords in 
order to gain favor with the local clergy. In the south of France, the 
sects became so powerful that they organized meetings and public debates, 
and large classes of society felt free to question the fundamental tenets 
of the church. Finally many French noblemen were converted to the 
Catharist sects. Some used this as an excuse to seize the property of the 

1 Coulton, G. G., The Inquisition, p. 32, 1929. 

1 Maycock, A. L., The Inquisition, pp. 37 ff., 1927. 

1 Quoted by Coulton, op. cit., p. 46. 


Roman Catholic church. In the closing years of the twelfth century 
numerous church missions were sent out to combat heresy by preaching 
and persuasion, by clerical competition in goodness and austerity, by 
debate and excommunication. These measures had but partial success; 
therefore, a Papal Bull of Nov. 17, 1207, called upon the peoples of 
northern France forcibly to repress the Albigenses, granting to all who 
would take part in such a crusade all the indulgences of crusaders to the 
Holy Land. After varying fortunes the nobles and Albigensians of the 
South were finally defeated in 1229. When, on the basis of persuasive 
competition, the church was losing ground, it turned to violence. It 
could be ruthless with physical beings when souls were to be saved. A 
campaign to repress and exterminate the heretics was begun, and the 
sects became secret organizations. 

And so, the Inquisition began. Confiscation, the stake and torture 
were its effective forces. According to Coulton, the principal charac- 
teristics of the Inquisition were: (1) Guilt was assumed unless innocence 
could be proved, (2) the judges were ecclesiastical, (3) procedures were 
secret, (4) names of witnesses were concealed, (5) infamous persons and 
children could testify, (6) it was made a punishable crime to appear in 
defense of a guilty person, (7) defense witnesses also were suspected 
of heresy, (8) torture could be used not only on suspects but also on 
witnesses, (9) torture had no legal limits, (10) the smallest of noncon- 
formities could be made punishable by death. 1 Suspects, heretics, 
and concealers and defenders of these were denounced, pursued, 
tried, tortured and killed by the thousands in the thirteenth and four- 
teenth centuries. As the inquisitors gained in ability to extort con- 
fessions, they felt it their duty to record their ingenuities for posterity; 
therefore, a number of inquisitors' manuals for plying tortured victims 
with questions were written for younger and less seasoned colleagues. 
And, of course, individual inquisitors soon went to extremes. Torque- 
mada is reported on good authority to have burned 2000 heretics. And 
he had many emulators. But the field of the Inquisition, although very 
extensive, did not comprise the whole of the Christian world. The 
Scandinavian kingdoms escaped it almost entirely, England experienced 
it only once in the case of the Templars, and Spain knew nothing of 
it before the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella. 2 It raged with especial 
violence in the south of France. 

Violent coercion of the individual's beliefs and opinions was carried 
to ever greater lengths. Here is one of the bloodiest pages of the history 
of man's inhumanity to man. Religious excesses and psychological 
aberrations leading to physical cruelty have frequently gone hand in 

1 Coulton, op. rit., pp. 67 ff. 

* Vacandard, E., The Inquisition, pp. 182 ff. t 1908. 


hand when not checked by institutional authority. Masochistic and 
sadistic motives are evident in the excesses of fugitive sects at times, 
the Russian "scourgers," flagellants, Penitentes and other cruel sects. 
Personal satisfaction as well as zeal for souls may have motivated 
some of the inquisitors, but most were no doubt preoccupied with the 
religious problem of the heresies. And of course fair play and physical 
humanitarianism are of lesser importance to persons obsessed with 
immortal souls. Apparently some of the inquisitors used relatively 
little torture, relying upon ingenious cross-questioning. However, 
whatever the method of carrying on the trial, the end was almost certain 
condemnation. Indeed, at certain periods of the Inquisition, representa- 
tives of the inquisitors would begin confiscating the property of the 
accused before the trial had begun, so certain was the judgment, especially 
in the case of the wealthy who had fallen from grace. 

Threatened institutions ultimately resort to force. The church 
has been no exception. No institution can be permanently maintained 
by force alone. On the other hand, in societies where violence is prev- 
alent, no institution can, in crises, dispense with it altogether and 
survive. The intrusion of such violence upon a society that had other- 
wise largely dispensed with physical coercion would develop popular 
revulsion and adverse opinion. However, in the period of the Inquisi- 
tion, force was the order of the day in many aspects of society. In 
the opinions of both faithful and heretic, physical coercion was a normal 
pattern of action. It was expedient and expected. 


States have varied greatly in their violent coercion of their various 
minorities. However, physical coercion or the threat of physical coercion 
is in the nature of any kind of state rule, although states differ markedly 
in the occasion and degree of its use. In the states of the authoritarian 
tradition, autocratic governments utilize crude, brutal physical force at 
many points both within and without. The Hegelian philosophy of 
the state theoretically justifies the subjection of the individual and 
minority groups to autocratic and powerful central governments. Once 
the sovereignty of such a government is granted, its use of physical force 
for coercive purposes becomes a problem not in ethics but in expediency. 
In recent times such governments achieved greatest control in the 
German states of the nineteenth century, in Czarist Russia, and latterly 
in Soviet Russia, in Fascist Italy and in Nazi Germany. But historically 
there have been many brutal governments utilizing physical force and 
terror with varying degrees of skill. As C. E. Merriam has stated, 
"Restraint, the lash, torture in many forms, mutilation, humiliation, 
isolation, exile, and finally death are items in the thick catalogue of force. 


The rack, the boot, branding, the dungeon, the 'hell hole/ boiling water 
and molten metal, crucifixion, burnings, sawings and pullings asunder. 
These are only a few of the devices from time to time employed in the 
service of the states." 1 With the development of the modern democratic 
and liberal state the scope of violence was lessened. Only those indi- 
viduals and groups who were the object of popular aversion were 
ordinarily subjected to physical violence. Various aspects of the treat- 
ment of the criminal, although gradually modified under a developing 
humanitarian tradition, continue as one field in which recourse to violence 
is frequent. In race and labor relations there remains some use of 
physical coercion under democracy. However, the state has been 
progressively restrained from using violence on minorities. Pity and 
sympathy and physical humanitarianism are a late development in 
social relations and are unstable even now. Respect for power and 
for physical force rigorously administered has been the more usual 
response of masses of mankind and is the dominant attitude in large 
sections of the world today. How unstable the aversion to violence 
is may be illustrated by the amazing recrudescence of a faith in force 
among masses of people in the Western world today under the difficulties 
of the past decade. There has been a flight from reason, logic, humani- 
tarianism, the techniques of peaceful adjudication, the rights of minori- 
ties, free speech. There have been a rise of faith in violence; the 
deliberate cultivation of the irrational, sentimentality and emotionalism; 
an increased reliance on supposed instinct, the " voice of the blood," 
and the like. These changing popular attitudes are evidenced, not only 
in changing state forms, but in literature and other aspects of culture. 
The systematic cult of the irrational and of faith in violence is indeed 

The most extensive as well as most influential justifications and 
defense of the use of physical force and violence by the state, in suppress- 
ing minorities at home, as well as in relation to other states, appear 
in the writings of the Russian Pobiedonostsev, of the German Trietschke 
and of the Italian Pareto. 2 Administrators, Pobiedonostsev declared, 
should not be limited and hence weakened by rules and doubts. The 
persons whose duty it is to act should act in an unrestricted fashion, 
using violence as freely as expediency decrees. All agencies of public 
administration, as well as the press, education and the judiciary, should 
be in the hands of these administrators. To Pobiedonostsev, free 
education was dangerous; the press was venal, gossipy and scandalous 

1 Merriam, C. E., Political Power, p. 135, 1934. 

1 Pobiedonostsev, K. P., Reflections of a Russian Statesman, 1898. Trietschke, H., 
Politics, original ed., 1898. English trans., 1916. Pareto, V., The Mind and Society 
(English trans.), Sections 1826-1875, 2054-2059, 1935. 


and should be repressed. Authority ultimately was holy, justified in 
whatever acts of violence were necessary to maintain the organic func- 
tioning of existing government in an uninterrupted fashion. Such was 
the political philosophy of the most influential man in Russia in the 
closing years of the nineteenth century. In Germany, Trietschke 
was writing in the 1870's those essays which were to be so influential 
in the next half century. He justified the Machtpolitik of the Prussian 
military monarchy. For him, power is the most distinctive attribute 
of the state, and the state is justified in applying this power in any way. 
Individual aims and interests are of no concern. Physical force should 
be used to whatever extent is necessary for achieving unity and stability 
of the state. Normally the state should rely upon force to ensure obedi- 
ence and should neither attempt to appeal to its subjects upon the basis 
of reason nor court popular approval. Such was the theory so widely 
quoted in Germany prior to 1914. Pareto advocated the use of vigorous 
force and physical coercion upon divergent groups within a state. Thus 
would the elite maintain themselves and prolong their existence. An 
elite preserves its ascendancy by manipulating symbols, controlling 
supplies and applying violence. l Pareto would intensify the violence. 
He maintains that only thus may a strong, orderly state exist, and that, 
contrary to beliefs propagated in the Western world during the humani- 
tarian movement of the nineteenth century, cruel aristocracies last 
longer than meek, humanitarian aristocracies. Aristocracies do not 
last, they decay and disappear, but they will last longer and exhibit a 
desirable vigor in proportion as they wisely and expediently use force 
for coercion. Many other nineteenth-century theorists overemphasized 
both the amount of violence required and the necessity for physical 
coercion in society. 

The church used force when threatened by the heresies. The state 
used violence, threatened violence and developed philosophies of force 
in the intensified state competitions and expansions of the nineteenth 
century. In colonizing and empire building there were natives and other 
states to be subjugated. As Hilaire Belloc said, 

Whatever happens, we have got 
The Maxim gun, and they have not. 

Also the expansion of other states and the competition for prestige 
were increased. There was intensified recourse to violence. Within 
the state, divergent political minorities were springing up. And the 
killing of critics has often been the simplest and most efficacious way of 
disposing of opposition. 

1 Lasswell, H. D. v Worli Politic* and Personal Insecurity, p. 3, 1935. 


The ultimate pattern of force is international war. Although the 
average length of wars decreased during the nineteenth century, 1 the 
preparation for war, its cost and the number of men under arms increased 
sharply. 2 Attempts to curb these preparations have failed. By their 
actions, nations stand committed to violence. However, popular 
opinion has been increasingly preoccupied with this problem during the 
breathing spell since the World War. But there is a growing desire, 
not only for peace, but also for security and welfare. If there is a passing 
of force as the supreme factor in the relation between states, there must 
be an adjustment of the economic problems of states (which seems incon- 
ceivable at the moment); the development of a trusted machinery to 
settle disputes; the conditioning of the attitudes of vast populations 
toward expression of opinion for peace. 

On the other hand, the Fascist movement has emphasized force and 
violence. The official motto of the Fascist educational system is "The 
textbook and the musket make the perfect Fascist/ 7 Violence is threat- 
ened without and applied within the state. The extent to which whole 
populations have been indoctrinated with a philosophy of violence 
remains to be seen. Within the Fascist state (in Italy, but more espe- 
cially in Germany) violence served to discharge long-accumulated 
aversions to opponents; it provided symbols of ruthlessness (dress-suited 
executioner with ax); it destroyed and intimidated foes. Mussolini 
has vigorously advocated violence and has developed various rules for 
its use. He has stated, 

Was there ever a government in history that was based exclusively on the 
consent of the people and renounced any and every use of force? A government 
so constituted there never will be. Consent is as changeable as the formations 
in the sands of the seashore. We cannot have it always. Nor can it ever be 
total. No government has ever existed that made all its subjects happy. What- 
ever solution you happen to give to any problem whatsoever, even though you 
share the Divine wisdom, you would inevitably create a class of malcontents. 
. . . How are you going to avoid that this discontent spread and constitute a 
danger for the solidarity of the State? You avoid it with force: by bringing 
a maximum force to bear; by employing this force inexorably whenever it is 
rendered necessary. Rob any government of force and leave it with only its 
immortal principles, and that government will be at the mercy of the first group 
that is organized and intent on overthrowing it. Now fascism throws these 
lifeless theories on the dump heap. When a group or a party is in power it has 
the obligation of fortifying itself and defending itself against all.* 

1 Las3well, H. D., Politics, p. 53, 1936. 

* Hodges, C., The Background of International Relations, tables, pp. 576, 579, 583 jf., 

3 Finer. H., Mussolini's Italy, p. 223, 1935. Quoted by permission of Henry 
Holt & Company, 


Individuals and minority groups have been terrorized and intimidated 
through threat of violence by those in power. There is a technique of 
terror of subjugation through fright, which utilizes secret police, spies, 
special courts, agents provocateurs, arrest on suspicion, hostages, con- 
centration camps, the bludgeon, the knife, the firing squad and other 
forms of violence. To the individual who has a profound faith in a 
political creed, these means may not seem unreal or indefensible for secur- 
ing the acceptance of his viewpoint. 

The systematic application of violence may also be used by minority 
groups to terrorize and intimidate representatives of governments. 1 
Planned assassination has been utilized by dissident groups to terrorize 
their opponents and to give publicity to their cause. In Russia there 
was organized in June, 1879, a professed terrorist party. 2 From then 
until the revolution, organized but sporadic violence occurred. Bakunin 
was the theorist of Russian terrorism. An extensive philosophy in 
defense of such acts was produced by the revolutionary parties. This 
romantic "propaganda of the deed" spread to other political systems 
but was nowhere so widely utilized as in Russia. Masaryk notes that 
the personal characteristics of the Russian terrorist were youth, fine 
enthusiasm, desire for publicity and martyrdom, mysticism and a 
nervous, restless temperament. Such a person often achieved an 
enthusiastic and admiring following among the women of the movement 
and became increasingly indifferent and reckless. 3 "But it now appears 
reasonable to conclude that selective assassination fails of its purpose as 
revolutionary propaganda. . . . The peasants did not rise; hence 
terroristic tactics passed into disrepute. " 4 


It has often been noted that most successful movements of social 
revolt have used violence at some point in the acquisition of power. 
In general this has been true in the Western world. However, the 
amount and types of violence vary with the prevailing cultural values. 

Liberalism has denied the validity of violence in the political field, 
and the associated humanitarianism has sought to lessen the use of 
physical coercion on all forms of sentient life. On the other hand, modern 
dictatorship has declared the necessity of violence to solve otherwise 
irreconcilable principles. Modern humanitarianism has its origins in 
the nineteenth century. It has been related to the rise of a middle class 
trained for peace, a numerous middle class conscious of the value of human 

1 "Terrorism/* " Intimidation," Ency. Soc. Sci. 

* Masaryk, T. G., The Spirit of Russia, vol. II, p. 95, 1919. 

9 Ibid., pp. 107-113. 

4 Lasswell, op. cit., p. 66. Quoted by permission of the McGraw-Hill Book 
Company, Inc. 


life, a middle class accepting science and rationalism and recoiling from 
cruelty. 1 Liberal humanitarianism provides the ideological basis for 
antislavery; for reform movements to improve the treatment of prisoners, 
women, children and animals; for social work and welfare movements. 
Popular conceptions and opinions in the Western world were oriented 
toward pity and sympathy. But these responses are quite unstable, and 
there is much inconsistency. In a sense, humanitarianism is a luxury 
associated with secure societal organization. Within contemporary 
cultures there are great inconsistencies between violent coercion in some 
fields and tender humanitarianism in others. Nazi leaders, though bent 
on toughening German sensibilities, have at the same time passed 
stringent rules restricting vivisection and attempted to prohibit it 

The confusion in popular opinion is very evident in America. Our 
history has made it so. Ideological humanitarian sentiment and Chris- 
tian tenderness were widespread. But the harsh realities of frontier 
life, the clashes between quite different cultural groups in our population, 
the unsettled race problem, the fierce violence of numerous industrial 
disputes have made the majority of Americans profess one viewpoint and 
frequently practice another code. The terrible record of race violence 
evidences one unresolved conflict. 2 Perhaps the lack of immediately 
threatening external enemies has accentuated violence within the land. 

The individual may be conditioned in quite various ways in response 
to violence. If normal man is endowed by nature with a portion of 
cruelty, this may certainly be greatly accentuated or minimized. Under 
the humanitarian tradition it was depreciated. But at other times the 
taste may be cultivated until wildly enthusiastic throngs flock to the 
arena, the burning, quartering, whipping or hanging. There can be no 
doubt that in America today there is an increasing cultivation of vicarious 
violence in comparison with, say 1900. This is due to the cult of violence 
elsewhere in the world and to the intellectual flight from reason. But 
it is more especially due to the common man's awareness of existing 
violences as purveyed to him by the newspapers, periodicals, radio and 
other means of communication. There is considerable confused accept- 
ance by the newspaper reader of the fact of fights, murders, gangs, 
lynchings, rapes and terrorism. An individual taste for such material 
may be cultivated. The world of contemporary vicarious appreciation 
of violence is exhibited in the action of much of our popular fiction: 
in mystery fiction; in those hard, staccato phrases descriptive of action 

1 Brinton, C., " Humanitarianism," Ency. Soc. Set., 7: 544-548. 
* Cutler, J. E., Lynch Law, 1905. 

White, W. F., Rope and Faggot, 1929. 

Raper, A. F., The Tragedy of Lynching, 1933. 


in a Dashiell Hammett mystery; in those writhing, tortured females who 
sprawl over the front covers of scores of pulp magazines; in that fierce 
interest in violent action in the true mystery and crime magazines. 
This is not to say that these serve as models for behavior, but they 
certainly do indicate the conscious cultivation of violence in thought. 
Personal violence in many fields may come to be taken for granted. 

Violence by majorities aims to subjugate, eliminate or terrorize 
opposition. Minorities may also attempt to intimidate. In both situa- 
tions there is an attempt to win the sympathies of an even larger public. 
In this process certain instances of violence become symbols for the 
groups. As Lasswell notes, . . . "the cult of violence is a kind of 
symbolism to which the tactics of the early Fascist squadrons have been 
reduced. This cult expresses itself in the growls and threats which 
pervade Fascist oratory and manifestoes." 1 The issue may be symbol- 
ized in a personally dramatic fashion, as in the personal violence of a 
John Brown or Carrie Nation. During the early years of the depression, 
the Communists staged dramatic hunger demonstrations and marches 
in many large American cities. As these were usually the occasions for 
violence and bloody riots, they became front-page news. 2 Violent 
incidents may also provide symbols around which the loyalties of the 
in-group may be organized. Sympathetic response to the physical 
trials and agonies of the members of the in-group may be treasured in 
the traditions of a family, gang, party, sect or nation and recalled at 
appropriate occasions. Thus the memories of the agonies of the Christian 
martyrs, the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti, the psychological trial 
of William Tell, the last gasps of the defenders of the Alamo or the 
writhings in the Black Hole of Calcutta become treasured possessions of 
a group. 

There are many limitations to the effective use of violence in large 
groups. Violence brutalizes those who apply it; usually, physical 
coercion cannot be stopped until it devours its own offspring; violence 
in the modern world alienates some of the most sensitive but useful 
persons from the group and cause that espouse it; 3 it breeds fraud and 
evasion; it is often wasteful and inefficient ; it readily develops antagonistic 
responses from those on whom it is used, causing counter movements. 
However, violence has often been successfully used for a time, especially 
in periods of cultural transition. Popular opinion has permitted and 
endorsed it. And obviously, physical coercion cannot be wholly abol- 
ished in contemporary social systems. 

l Laaswell, H. D., Propaganda and Dictatorship (H. L. Childs, ed.), p. 46, 1936. 
Quoted by permission of Princeton University Press. 

1 Adamic, op. cit. t Postscript on Violence, pp. 458-480. 

1 Maclver, R. M.. Society, Its Structure and Changes, pp. 3CM2, 1931. 


The record of man's beliefs and opinions as well as his behavior 
may be and has been developed from a number of different viewpoints 
and frames of reference. For example, historical studies have been 
written primarily in terms of personalities, of peoples and races, of 
cultures, of economic motivations, of political ideologies, of psychological 
and of geographic factors. Personal factors are the perennial pre- 
occupation of the common man and, indeed, until very recently have been 
the center of attention for social philosophers and scientists. That 
innate racial characteristics are responsible for differences in behavior 
and belief has been the thesis of an enormous literature. The cultural 
divisions of mankind have been increasingly described and differentiated 
during the past century. Economic motivations have been especially 
emphasized since Karl Marx. Political ideologies have been a dis- 
tinguishing classification since the rise of great states. And the spatial 
distribution of both material and nonmaterial culture elements has 
latterly proved a fruitful approach to the study of human life. Interrela- 
tions resulting from spatial positions have been explored in the literature 
of human ecology. We shall consider briefly the significance of position 
in space as this affects public opinion. 

The influence of geographic factors in affecting man's beliefs, opinions 
and ideologies has been discussed ever since there has been an organized 
body of social theory. Hundreds of social theorists have dealt with such 
relationships. "There is scarcely any physical or psychical trait in man, 
any characteristic in the social organization of a group, any social process 
or historical event, which has not been accounted for through geographical 
factors by this or that partisan of this school." 1 That the thought life 
of man in both content and quantity has been considerably affected by 
either direct or indirect geographic influences is obvious. However, this 
type of causal relationship has been carried to absurd extremes by many a 
geographic determinist. 2 

The influence of the natural environment has often been an important 
factor in the formation of beliefs and in the opinion process in changing 
those beliefs in the simpler primitive cultures and folk cultures. Hence, 

1 Sorokin, P. A., Contemporary Sociological Theories, p. 100, 1928. 

* For a criticism of the most extreme examples, sec idem., Chaps, 3 and 7, 


the relationship between physical environment and the content of myths, 
the conceptions of gods and their nature, the afterlife, the stories and folk 
tales, tlie language symbols, and other items. Many figures of speech 
are taken from items common in the region. In the teachings of Christ 
the frequent references to vines, trees, sheep, the good shepherd, and the 
like, illustrate this point. The proverbs of folk peoples also reflect their 
surroundings. 1 These elements have been colored by development in a 
given geographic area but have not been determined thereby, as is evi- 
denced by the presence of similar elements elsewhere in the world and 
also by the existence of similar geographic areas in which no such culture 
elements have developed. The cultural anthropologists have been 
extremely critical of the excesses of geographic determinism; they have 
maintained that geographic factors are a limiting, but not a determining, 
factor. For example, climatic conditions may serve as a limiting factor 
in decreasing the quantity of mentation and the alertness of a people. 
The debilitating effect of the tropics on the mental life of the white man, 
the paucity of imaginative legendary elements in Eskimo cultures are 
extreme examples of such influences. However, although in the simpler 
cultures geographic influences place some limits upon the quantity and 
quality of man's thought, the possible range of the products of thought 
outside of these limits is almost infinite. And as one proceeds from the 
simpler to the more complex and mobile societies, the influence of 
geographic factors dwindles and other elements bulk larger. 

Not only climate and topography, but also the distribution of various 
items in space, are considered as geographic phenomena. During the 
past two decades the social sciences have increasingly considered spatial 
and territorial distribution of their phenomena. The concept "human 
ecology" refers to the way in which human beings and their institutions 
assume characteristic distribution in space. This is a significant frame 
of reference only in those cases where the spatial distribution assumes a 
meaningful pattern. "The term pattern is here used to mean any 
property of a whole which is characteristic only of the whole and not of 
parts into which the whole may be divided. Pattern properties seem to 
depend upon the totality of parts rather than upon their simple addi- 
tion." 2 Are there significant spatial distributions of opinion groups 
within communities, regions and areas? H. D. Lasswell states, "Atten- 
tion groups, sentiment groups, crowds and publics have their geographical 
aspects. We may properly speak of attention areas, sentiment areas, 
crowd areas and public areas, and we may profitably explore their inter- 
relationships." 3 In an extensive study of race attitudes, E. S. Bogardus 

1 Albig, W., "Proverbs and Social Control," Social. Soc. Res., 15: 527-535. 

* George, W. H., The Scientist in Action, p. 128. Williams and Norgate, 1936. 

'Lasswell, H. D., "The Measurement of Public Opinion/ 1 Am. Pol Sci. Rev., 25: 
2: 316. 


notes the distribution of opinions within the community and concludes 
that " racial opinion occurs in high-pressure areas with low-pressure 
regions between. The first express either antipathy or friendliness. 
The antipathetic areas possess a higher emotional pressure than the 
friendliness-pressure areas. In between are the low-pressure or neutral 
districts in which high pressures are likely to be manifested at any time." 1 
In this case a meaningful pattern may exist. The presence of such a 
pattern would have to be tested. As with other phenomena, significant 
relationship must be proved. P. Sorokin has noted : 

One of the main ways of bringing order out of chaos of the whole universe as 
well as of the cultural world is furnished by the causal-functional formulae of 
integration. They give us the patterns of uniformity that are to be found in the 
relationships of a vast number of individual components of this infinite chaos. 
. . . When the formula shows that the variables A and B, depression and the 
birth rate, modes of production and ideological forms, psycho-social isolation and 
suicide, urbanization and crime, are more or less uniformly associated with one 
another in the sense that B normally follows A or changes with A, this uniformity 
builds the variables together, introduces a readily understood causal order into 
disorder. 2 

In mapping opinions on race we must therefore have more than one 
map. Changing opinion must be shown to be associated with location, 
if spatial position is to be proved a significant factor. 

The decision as to whether or not opinion and position are possibly 
related to one another is made by the researcher. Here, as elsewhere in 
research, he docs not test all possible relationships. He first decides 
as to whether there is a logical coalescence between these items. Some- 
times spatial position is obviously the basic factor in determining opinions. 
This is the case when the immediate group is practically inescapable and 
is the sole source of information, as is usually true of the primitive com- 
munity. In the folk society, also, the local community provides most of 
the data from which opinion decisions are made. The limited gossip 
and discussion areas of the individual are for the most part the limits of 
his world. As the great societies have emerged, increasingly equipped 
with new and more effective agencies of mass communication, the atten- 
tion areas of the individual have widened. The impress of the local 
geographical community and of the neighborhood are of lesser impor- 
tance for most opinions. An investigator may find birth-control clinics, 
supported by local opinion, widely distributed in Wisconsin. How- 
ever, he may know that this is due to agitational activities directed from 

1 Bogardus, E. S., Immigration and Race Attitudes, p. 237, 1928; The New Social 
Research, Chap. 12, 1926. 

'Sorokin, P., "Forms and Problems of Culture Integration," Rural Sociology, 
\ : 346. Permission to quote granted. 



New York and would therefore not attempt to show a regional diffusion. 
Membership in interest groups, contact with media of communication 




FIQ. 3. Map drawn from data on the distribution and size of broadcasting stations aa 
listed in the International Radio Index (1936). 

and other factors may be much more important than place of residence. 
However, certain opinions are clearly a local product. 


In the larger areas an uneven spatial distribution of ideas and opinions 
may be seen. " There is no doubt that ideas experienced by individuals 
and groups differ quantitatively as well as qualitatively. These ideas 

depend on contact. " l Satisfactory criteria for mapping such psychologi- 
cal areas have not been evolved. Whether they should be mapped or 
not will depend upon the investigator's conception of how they have 
1 Taft, D. R., Human Migration, p. 557, 1936. 



been diffused. Certainly the sources of stimulation may be significantly 
distributed. Printing, the telegraph, telephone, motion pictures and 
radio are unevenly distributed within areas and over the entire world. 
They have shortened physical and psychological distances, not only 
integrating peoples through increased understanding, but also making 
conflict tensions more acute. In this sense it is today a commonplace 
to refer to the world as shrinking. To portray graphically the distribu- 

BY STATES -1934 




I to 3 

5 to 7 fon 

7 to 9 ESS3 
9 to 12 I 1 

FIG. 5. 







New Hampshire 

















New York 


New Jersey 










Rhode Island 



South Dakota 








North Dakota 


South Carolina 



West Virginia 



New Mexico 





North Carolina 





tion of these various stimuli would require a separate monograph. On 
this point we may insert only a single exhibit, the distribution of radio 
stations throughout the world. In Figs. 3 and 4, the concentration of 
radio stations at certain points, as well as the vast blank spaces, may be 
noted. The size of the dots indicates the class of power of the stations. 
Data on means of communication have usually been collected in 
terms of political rather than natural areas. For the United States, 
most such materials are summarized by states. This is often unsatis- 



factory. However, some types of data appear in significant distribution 
by states. Sources of information from periodicals, class periodicals 
and the radio are indicated by the distribution of these media as por- 
trayed in Figs. 5, 6 and 7. 

Of course, the average number of individuals using each copy of a 
periodical or listening to each radio should also be known. Perhaps 
when these are less well distributed, as in the southern states, the average 



to 100 

300to400l I 

FIG. 6. 







New Hampshire 












New York 

New Jersey 





Rhode Island 














South Dakota 








North Dakota 

West Virginia 






South Carolina 


New Mexico 





North Carolina 





number of users per item is larger. The per capita distribution of forty- 
seven leading magazines, of newspaper circulation, of families owning 
radio sets and of library circulations is presented in Table IV. The 
rankings of the states indicate a high correlation between items in the 
groups of states at the top and bottom of the list. There is a greater 
diversity and scattering among those in the middle of that list. Contact 
with the extracommunity world is least in the group of southeastern and 
south-central states. Of course this is well known. These data support 
the generalization, 





State | J 



al- g 


3 a 


r'5 o. 






Newspaper circu- 
lation per 1000 
population 2 



Percentage of 
families owning 
radio sets' 



Circulation of 
library books 
per capita 4 



Alabama. i 2,646 









Aricona . . . . 435 









Arkansas 1 , 854 









California 5 , 677 









Colorado 1 , 035 









Connecticut 1 , 606 









Delaware 238 









District of Columbia . ... 486 









Florida 1 , 468 









Georgia 2,908 









Idaho 445 









Illinois 7,630 
Indiana . - .; 3,238 
Iowa ... 2,470 
Kansas . 1,880 
Kentucky.. . . . ... 2,614 
Louisiana 2,101 
Maine ; 797 
Maryland ' 1,631 
Massachusetta . . , 4 , 249 
Michigan .4,842 
Minnesota i 2,563 
Mississippi ... . . 2 , 009 
Missouri... . 3,029 
Montana. . . . . . - , 537 
Nebraska j 1,377 
Nevada . 91 








4 37 


New Hampshire. . . . | 465 
New Jersey . . , 4,041 
New Mexico . 423 
New York 12,588 
North Carolina.. . ..3,170 
North Dakota. . j 680 
Ohio 6,646 









Oklahoma ... 2,396 
Oregon 953 





43 4 


6 82 


Pennsylvania . ... . . . . ' 9,631 









Rhode Island i 687 
South Carolina . i 1,738 






7 6 





South Dakota 692 





44 2 


2 68 


Tennessee . . . > 2,616 





14 3 


1 70 


Texas 5 , 824 





18 6 


1 45 


Utah 507 





41 1 


4 23 


Vermont 359 





44 6 


6 25 


Virginia 2,421 





18 2 


1 15 


Washington 1 , 563 





42 3 


6 83 


West Virginia . ... . . . . 1 729 





23 3 




Wisconsin . . ... . 2 , 939 





51 1 


5 89 


Wyoming .... 225 









1 Adapted from Allen, E. W., "Circulation Density," Jour. Quar., 12: 2: 122. 

Compiled from circulation figures in Editor and Publisher, 63: 37 (1931), International Year Book, 
Sec. 2, p. 125. 

1 Adapted from Willey, M. M., and Rice, S. A., Communication Agencies and Social Life, Table 53, 
pp. 188-189. 
. Compiled from Bull. Am. Lib. A*so., May, 1035, 30: 6: 262-253. 


Another way in which significant spatial distribution of opinion is 
indicated is in the records of voting. Patterns may be noted by mapping 
the results of various elections. Voting records opinion at a given 
moment. Although often unsatisfactory for the purpose of predicting 
behavior inasmuch as it forces the variety of attitudes into two opposing 
camps, voting does show the practical popular decision. There are 



40% to 50* 

20%to 30*0011 

V. to 10 VJ I 

FIG. 7. 

Maine 39 2 

New Hampshire 44.4 

Vermont 44.6 

Massachusetts 57.6 

Rhode Island 57.0 

Connecticut 54.9 

New York 55.3 

New Jersey 63.3 

Pennsylvania 48. 1 

Ohio 47.7 

Indiana 41.6 

Illinois 55.6 





North Dakota 

South Dakota 





Dist. of Col. 



West Virginia 

North Carolina 

South Carolina 



























New Mexico 








hundreds of studies of voting records by states and other political units, 
but the most elaborate graphic portrayal of voting by states in American 
history is presented in the Atlas of the Historical Geography. 1 This monu- 
mental work is the product of two decades of effort by a research staff. 
Selected and adapted maps from this source dealing with two major issues 
are given in Fig. 8. The political results of social reform conducted over 
many years are portrayed. 

1 Paullin, C. O., Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States, 1932. 



a Dry 

M Local Prohibition 



a Dry 1 

M Local Prohibition 



CD Dry 

m Local Prohibition 

Hi Wet 



a Dry 

a Full Suffrage 
%Z% Partial Suffrage 
No Suffrage 


^ Partial Suffrage 
No Suffrage 


CD Pull Suffragi 
^Partial Suffrage 
No Suffrage 


CD Full Suffrage 

FIG. 8. The political results of two social reforms. (From Paullin, C. 0., Atlas of thr 
Historical Geography of the United States. Reproduced by permission of Carnegie Institution 
of Washington and the American Geographical Society of New York.) 


On some issues, fewer now than during the nineteenth century, state 
divisions are useful in mapping opinion. Organization of attitudes, 
loyalties and opinions about state symbols, such as flags, mottoes, seals, 
songs, birds, flowers, popular names, and the like, has been common in 
American history. Within state borders, individuals were united in 
like response to these common stimuli. Economic interests are some- 
times coincident with state borders, although this is rarely so. Under 
the guidance of economists and various specialists preoccupied with 
areas, regions and other nonpolitical subdivisions, the scholar is likely 
today to underestimate the vitality of state concepts in the popular 
mind, especially in the South. In successive voting periods, state 
records, when mapped, frequently show pattern. 

Numerous social phenomena have been studied in terms of areas, 
sections and regions. The distribution of opinions may sometimes 
profitably be considered in such terms. The contrast of urban-rural 
attitudes and opinions is presented in many recent books. 1 The sources 
of information of the two groups have been surveyed exhaustively. 
The usually greater indirect experience of the urban dweller has been 
traditionally stressed in comparison with rural folk experience. Certain 
of the mores differ. For example, "adultery in a rural setting is still 
generally a tragic theme, while in metropolitan life it is a stock subject 
for social comedy." 2 However, both the mores and opinions are today 
diffused more similarly through rural and urban areas than was previously 
true. Exceptions to this will be found chiefly in divergent political 
and economic attitudes and opinions, due to more conscious class interests 
and organization. 

Sectional divisions were of paramount importance in nineteenth- 
century America. Differences of life ways and opinion between the South 
and the North, the West and the East, the frontier and the rest of the 
country, as portrayed in Professor Turner's fruitful historical dichotomy, 
were authentic divisions. 3 But the region is now the more valid unit 
of analysis. What is a region? "Region" has different meanings in 
the various social sciences. The political scientist, although latterly 
somewhat influenced by the concept of economic regions, usually has 
in mind the various political areas. "The geographer is likely to con- 
ceive of regions as entities that are set off from one another by physio- 
graphic barriers, while the sociologist views as a region that territory 
which is inhabited by a more or less unified human group unified by 

1 See, notably, Williams, J. M., Our Rural Heritage, 1925; Sorokin, P., and Zimmer- 
man, C. C., Systematic Source Book in Rural Sociology, vol. Ill, pp. 251 ff., 1930. 

3 Fergusson, H., Modern Man, p. 224, 1936. 

8 Odum, H., Southern Regions, pp. 245-261, 1936. Prof. Odum has clearly com- 
pared the sectional and regional approach. 


forces of commerce and communication such as the people of a great 
city and its environs or 'trade territory.'" 1 Regional classifications 
have been developed in great numbers. Prof. Odum notes that over 100 
administrative regions have been mapped out for functional use in 
banking, commerce, military strategy, power and relief. Retail shopping 
zones and trading centers have been delimited. General cultural 
regions have been assumed by the novelist and sociologist. Are any 
of these divisions useful for the student of public opinion? Certainly, 
they are of limited usefulness at the moment. Most mores, attitudes 
and opinions have not been recorded in a definite form that permits of 
mapping. But there are certain related phenomena that may be treated 
regionally. For example, one may map the distribution of radio audi- 
ences of particular stations. Or the potential coverage of stations may 
be graphically shown. Newspaper circulations may be used to map 
areas of diffusion and influence. One such map, taken from Prof. 
McKenzie's study The Metropolitan Community, is presented in Fig. 9. 
Harold Geisert mapped the newspaper circulation of Illinois towns and 
indicated the way in which the means of transportation determined the 
shape of the area. 2 Communication, and with it the opinion process, 
is fundamental to the existence of every form of society. The limits of 
newspaper circulation of a metropolitan area may therefore be assumed 
to outline a natural area. 

The boundaries of an area or a region are determined by the phenom- 
ena under consideration. If the data can be shown to be distributed 
in a number of significant geographic patterns, then we have regions. 
We have seen that such regions exist with regard to those stimuli which 
influence opinion, the newspapers, radio and other means of communica- 
tion. What evidence is there of the existence of opinion regions? Such 
regional mapping is limited by the relatively few items of opinion that 
have been formally recorded by a oas. Obviously the principal sources 
of data, therefore, must be voting records. Some years ago, S. A. Rice 
attempted to delimit some such regions. 3 Unfortunately the political 
scientists have been very slow in checking his conclusions or furthering 
this work. They have lagged in the application of experimental and 
quantitative techniques even in cases such as this where these methods 
were indicated. Rice instituted a remarkable series of studies. Certain 
changes in economic situation and in attitudes were correlated. Both 
the diffusion and social density of political attitudes, as indicated by 

1 House, F. N., Development of Sociology, p. 139, 1936. 

* Geisert, H., Newspaper Circulation in Illinois, unpublished Master's thesis, 
University of Illinois, 1929. See, also, Park, R. E., "Urbanization as Measured by 
Newspaper Circulation/' Am. Jour. Sociol., 35: 60-79. 

1 Rice, S. A., Quantitative Methods in Politics, especially Chaps. 10 and 11, 1928. 


votes for candidates, were traced in studies of voting in Wisconsin, 
Michigan and Philadelphia. The patterning of votes within states was 
tested. In Minnesota, " concentrations of the radical and conservative 
vote along geographical lines, with their correlated areas of crop speciali* 

zation were noted." 1 In North Dakota the conservative eastern counties 
differed markedly from the radical western counties. Rural prosperity 
was greatest in the eastern part of the state. Regional groupings within 
the state associated with crop-producing areas appeared evident. In 
the Brookhart (Radical) and Cummins (Conservative) campaign in 

* Idem., p. 126. 


Iowa in 1920, cleavages of a regional nature rather than primarily on 
occupational or class lines appeared. In those counties in which the 
average farm values were highest, the largest vote for Cummins occurred. 
Similar evidence was collected from regions in Nebraska. If this is a 
true regional rather than political unit phenomenon, the similarities of 
vote should cross state lines. And Rice finds evidence to support this 
thesis. The Missouri River valley contains counties in Iowa, Nebraska 
and South Dakota. The Red River valley is in Minnesota and North 
Dakota. In each case there is a homogeneous geographical and economic 
area. Testing the hypothesis that the votes should show this economic 
uniformity, Rice concludes, "The hypothesis of culture areas of political 
attitudes has strong a priori support, and is consistent with the data 
assembled, but has not yet been established empirically." 1 He found, 
however, that state boundaries interposed real barriers to similarity of 
the vote. These boundaries became less influential when shopping areas 
crossed state lines. In another study he finds changes in political opinion 
unevenly distributed over the state of Washington. In this case the 
underlying factors were economic conditions based, not upon geographic 
conditions (upon land value), but upon the distribution of the labor 
vote throughout the state. In this case we have an occupational rather 
than a regional pattern. 

Another study attempting to relate conservative and radical voting 
to the more obvious geographic and economic conditions was made by 
G. A. Lundberg. 2 Ten radical and ten conservative voting counties 
in North Dakota and Minnesota were compared, as to composition of 
population, improved acres per farm, average value of property per 
farm, value of crops, assessed valuation, mortgages and other economic 
phenomena. Radicalism in voting was found to be associated with 
adverse geographic conditions (western Dakota), undeveloped com- 
munities and economic insecurity. The author concludes that the 
attitudes of the community and the physical and social character of 
the community tend to be mutually selective and formative. These 
studies support the thesis that certain voting habits may be identified 
with geographic factors and economic regions. It may well be so. 
However, the distribution of most opinions will not be found to follow 
the patterns of economic regions of the United States, even when there 
is a spatial distribution. Economic class consciousness has not achieved 
so definite a distribution. On most public issues, the symbols and other 
stimuli in the formation of opinion are largely common to various eco- 
nomic classes. Business class symbols are used by the industrial worker, 
and the symbols of rural aims and objectives may be mouthed by the 

1 Idem., p. 155. 

- Lundberg, G. A., "The Demographic and Economic Basis of Political Radicalism 
and Conservatism," Am. Jour. Social., 32: 719-732, 


farmer with a thousand fertile acres and the scrabbling "hillbilly." 
Considering the vast terra incognita of opinion phenomena and the lack 
of research funds, it would be very unwise at the moment for the sociolo- 
gist to attempt to test the thesis of identical economic and opinion areas. 

To locate opinions spatially may be helpful in getting at the funda- 
mental patterns, even if the individual's opinion is not primarily due to 
his position. We may anticipate many studies of this kind. Despite 
the ballyhoo and overextravagant claims, certain of the commercial polls 
(Gallup, Crossley, etc.) have been doing fruitful experimentation in 
sampling techniques. Adequate but not too extensive or expensive 
sampling, as well as perfected methods of recording the individuals' 
opinions, should make possible successive polls on various issues. These 
may be recorded in terms of areas, not because location was primarily 
responsible for the creation of their opinions, but because the density of 
opinion at a given place may be an important factor in the future trends 
of opinion in that area. To locate the members of an interest group 
according to residence does not mean that one necessarily assumes that 
their place of residence had anything to do with their membership in that 
group. If, however, it is a proselyting, agitational group, the location of 
its members at any given time is of obvious significance to its future 

In dealing with the record of past popular opinions, the mapping of 
opinion is of even more importance than for contemporary mass opinions. 
Owing to the limited means of communication, there was then a greater 
tendency for opinion to diffuse in concentric circles. 1 As has often been 
noted, the popular mass communication of the present century is destroy- 
ing the neat patterns of diffusion of ideas and opinions that largely pre- 
vailed when opinion was based on face-to-face discussion. 

The study of the spatial distribution of opinion in contemporary large 
publics is by no means futile. There often is a pattern. But probably 
more often this is not the significant frame of reference. In the United 
States there is greater diversity of beliefs and opinions than of the ele- 
ments of material culture. There is an increasingly pervasive uniformity 
in most material things. Opinions and beliefs have been more resistant 
to regimentation. The local and regional cultural elements are inculcated 
in the family and primary group. But gradually in many fields locality 
and regional groups are superseded by interest groups in providing 
stimuli for individual opinions. Apparently this is not occurring so 
rapidly as many social theorists anticipated. Man does not move 
rapidly into the great society. 

1 In his recent Environment and Nature, 1936, Griffith Taylor has published several 
hundred maps, many of which would illustrate this point. For example, there are 
those dealing with the spread of Christianity, language diffusion, the Renaissance, the 
spread of universities and architecture, 


It is well for changes to come slowly but it would seem that sociologists 
have been over-slow to grasp the liberating significance of this concept of 
social attitudes which has so much of value for their work. The concept 
of the mores with the emphasis on their mutability and their power has 
influenced other fields. But the stubborn individual yet remained, and 
the fluid character of social life congealed against the absolutes of his 
inborn equipment. Yet social attitudes, once they are grasped in their 
full significance, become the counterpart, in individual equipment, of the 
richly varied customs of the peoples of the world differing as cus- 
toms differ from land to land, and changing as the mores change, from age 
to age. For the social attitudes of individuals are but the specific 
instances in individuals of the collective phenomena which the sociologists 
have labored for a century to bring to the consciousness of their colleagues 
in social science. 1 

Preoccupation with the innate factors motivating behavior has existed 
among the experimental psychologists, since the early studies of Lange, 
Wundt, Kiilpe and others on the factors of preparation for action; 
among the theoretical psychologists, philosophers and theologians in the 
many varieties of instinct theory; and among the social psychologists 
and sociologists, since about 1920, in the study of attitudes. Of course, 
this organic basis of behavior is a fundamental problem of all those 
branches of learning concerned with the behavior of living forms, but 
our interest lies in those disciplines concerned with the psychological 
and social life of man. 

In 1888, Lange propounded the theory that the process of perception 
was largely in consequence of muscular "set." Then, following Wundt 
and KiUpe, the study of the preparation of the subject for action was 
experimentally described in the laboratory results of the Wurzburg 
school which appeared in the writings of N. Ach, A. Messer, K. Btihler 
and others. 2 This experimental work was often very simple, consisting 
of introspective accounts of the process of judgment in differentiating 
weights, of tests with stimulus words and the subjects' responses, and the 
like. States in the preparatory process were described. Although the 

1 Faris, E., in Social Attitudes (Young, K., ed.), p. 5, 1931. Quoted by permission 
of Henry Holt & Company. 

2 See Fearing, F., " Experimental Study of Attitude," in Methods in Social 
Science (Rice, S., ed.), pp. 715-728, 1931; Allport, O. W., "Attitudes," in Handbook 
of Social Psychology (Murchison, C., ed.), pp. 798-844, 1935. 



German experimentalists of that period used a variety of words to express 
the set of the organism, the concept of "attitude" and later the term came 
to be widely accepted by psychologists. These "tendencies to act" 
were not, however, always conceived of as irreducible elements. 


Among the theoreticians, also, the idea of an organic set for behavior 
likewise developed. It appeared in the most definite form in the concept 
of instincts. Although some conception of the innate drives called 
"instincts" appeared in the works of the Greek philosophers, in the 
theological literature of the Middle Ages and in the beliefs concerning 
innate sentiments, especially moral sentiments, during the seventeenth 
and eighteenth centuries, it was not until the middle of the nineteenth 
century that classifications of instincts were developed. The method 
was theoretical and speculative. Although the term was very loosely 
used, the instincts were usually thought of as specific and definite inherited 
or unlearned responses, universal in nature. Lists of such instincts, 
varying from a half-dozen innate drives to more than a hundred, were 
presented by scores of writers with the developing interest in social 
phenomena from the 1890's onward. 1 As the lists of instincts length- 
ened, it appeared that their authors' method was the observation of 
quite widespread similarities of behavior which were then assumed to be 
based upon an instinct. Social philosophers, seeking a prime mover of 
human social behavior, likewise posited some innate, original tendency. 
In the ferment of social theory of the closing nineteenth century, stirred 
by biologic interpretations and Darwinian evolution, a renewed emphasis 
upon innate factors appeared. Pervasive conflict was ascribed to the 
instinct of pugnacity by Gumplowicz, Ratzenhofer, James and many 
others, and sympathy and associative tendencies, long asserted by the 
Christian church fathers as based on human innate tendencies, were 
formally linked with instinct by Kropotkin, Hans Bliihrer and others. 
But these general terms could not account for the infinitely rich variation 
of the phenomena in patterns of social behavior. Nor could the relation- 
ships between the behavior and the assumed instinct be proved. 

The lists of instincts that were prepared by the psychologists were 
applied to many fields: advertising, salesmanship, education, personality, 
group control and many others. Carleton Parker even ascribed the more 
radical labor movements of the Northwest to thwarted sex instincts. 
In the meantime, the developing study of culture forms during the first 
twenty years of this century made less and less necessary the assumption 
of pervasive similar innate drives to account for similarities of behavior. 
Revolt against such interpretations grew, and by 1920 the battle was 

1 See Bernard, L. L., "Instinct," Ency. Soc. Sci., 8: 81-83. 


joined. As an academic battle it was a short, sharp engagement. Lack 
of ability to agree on a list of instincts to defend; a scurrying and undigni- 
fied word jugglery in the attempt to get a more definitive term for " innate 
drives"; the fact that "instinct" was used in such varied ways that it 
had come to be considered the last refuge of the psychologically destitute 
rapidly weakened the defense, and it was soon generally agreed that 
most of the so-called "instincts" were not inherited mechanisms, but 
acquired ways of behavior, similar in many individuals because of 
cultural diffusion. The concept and the term are still used by popular 
authors, novelists, poets and literary folk but are usually eschewed by 
the psychologist. 

The sociologist is primarily occupied with the analysis of forms and 
patterns in the processes of interaction of human beings and with the 
residual results of that interaction, culture. Intermittently he becomes 
aware of the inadequacy, inaccuracy and unreality of his analysis unless 
he attempts to consider the motivating power behind human behavior. 
Indeed, this is the dilemma of all the social studies dealing with culture 
forms. To what extent are these forms the result of, or related to, 
psychological factors of desires, wishes, interests, instincts, sentiments, 
emotion or attitudes in the individual? To what extent are culture 
forms and human social behavior the product of the operation of objective 
realities? 1 This is a very old problem. Every age answers it differently. 
However, psychological factors do not determine culture forms, nor may 
psychological entities be adduced from culture forms or types of human 
behavior in the social process. The great differences of culture and of 
human behavior indicate that the same desires may be accompanied by a 
wide variety of forms of overt activity, whereas similar activity may be 
motivated in part by widely divergent desires. Yet psychological factors 
are involved, and the sociologist must attempt to deal with them in some 
terms. His primary field is the analysis of forms, patterns and processes 
of human interaction. But social experience, as well as the philosopher, 
constantly warns of the sterility of analysis of forms of action and 
behavior, of the overt and visible, divorced from their source in the set 
of the organisms that gives rise to them. The unity of the life processes 
is thus violated. Psychological factors are involved. In daily life some 
assumptions about the set of the functioning organisms of those with 
whom we come in contact, about intent and consciousness, are made in a 
wide variety of human-contact situations. These range from the simplest 
of involuntary physical gestures to complex symbolic systems of behavior; 
from involuntary sounds and cries to the most illusive, allusive circum- 
locutions of academic discourse or the formal language of international 
politics; from the simplest and least voluntary to the most conscious and 

I 5orokiii, P., Contemporary Sociological Theories, pp. 636-659, 1928, gives an 
analytical and illustrated discussion of this fundamental problem. 


complex behavior. By 1920, sociologists, intermittently attempting to 
relate tendencies to act to the action and behavior, found the instinct 
psychology, with its emphasis on the inheritance of specific innate 
behavior patterns, no longer tenable. They were too much aware of the 
variety of human behavior in various cultures. Some concept of tend- 
ency to act was required, differing from instinct in that the tendency was, 
at least in part, acquired. The term " attitude'' appeared, and it nas 
become perhaps the most widely used and indispensable concept in social 
psychology and but little less widely used in sociology. 


"Attitude" originally meant a position of the body suited to a certain 
action, a physical preparation by position for action. Its meaning was 
much broadened to cover all preparation and tendency to act, either 
overt or inner and psychic. The term has been quite variously defined 
in the sociological literature of the past twenty years, but there is an 
underlying unanimity on general "set of the organism" and "tendency 
to act." 

It is the set of the organism toward the object or situation to which an adjust- 
ment is called for. When the adjustment is made the attitude disappears, 
except in so far as it is retained in memory or in the habitual set of the organism. 1 

By attitude we understand a process of individual consciousness which 
determines real or possible activity of the individual counterpart of the social 
value; activity, in whatever form, is the bond between them. 2 

An attitude is a tendency to act. The term designates a certain proclivity, 
or bent, a bias or predisposition, an aptitude or inclination to a certain type of 
activity. 3 

An attitude is a pronounced tendency to a certain way of reacting. 4 

An attitude, roughly, is a residuum of experience, by which further activit}* 
is conditioned and controlled. An inner mental organization takes place which 
predisposes the person to a certain type of activity toward objects, persons and 
situations. 5 

An attitude is a mental and neural state of readiness, organized through 
experience, exerting a directive or dynamic influence upon the individual's 
response to all objects and situations with which it is related. 6 

W. I. Thomas first emphasized the concept of attitude as basic in 
social psychology. 7 His students have recently noted their obligation 

1 Bernard, L. L., Introduction to Social Psychology, p. 246, 1926. 

2 Thomas, W. I., and Znaniecki, F., The Polish Peasant in Europe and America, 
vol. I, p. 27, 1918. 

8 Faris, E., " Attitudes and Behavior," Am. Jour. Sociol, 34: 2: 277 (1928). 
4 Williams, J. M., Our Rural Heritage, p. 9, 1925. 

* Krueger, E. T., and Reckless, W. C., Social Psychology, p. 238, 1935. 

Allport, op. cit., p. 810. 

7 The first section of The Polish Peasant in Europe and America, 1918, is devoted 
to an analysis of the concepts of value in society and attitude in th individual. 


to him for this fruitful viewpoint. 1 Cooley, Fans, Williams, and Dewey 
were also prominently associated with the early development of the 
movement to interpret action ways in terms of the underlying attitudes. 1 


"Attitude" as used in contemporary sociology and social psychology 
has a wide variety of meanings. These range from the temporary set 
of the organism, or Aufgdbe, to relatively permanent and complex 
tendencies to act, such as one's attitude toward war. The term is used 
in reference to the preparation of the organism for overt physical behavior 
and to tendency to act in mental processes, such as the individual's 
response to the idea of adultery, patriotism or alma mater. Further, 
attitude is used for tendencies to act that are individually unique and 
also for those group attitudes, either cultural or collective, that the 
individual abstracts from culture or from group experiences. The 
cultural attitudes are those which are incorporated in individual attitude 
through the acceptance of the cultural values. The citizen's response 
to the national anthem, the Northwest Indian's pride in the ceremonial 
of the potlatch, the modesty of the naked Indian female of the Amazonian 
basin outraged by a missing ear ornament are attitudes that the 
individual has developed from cultural values. The individual's response 
to the mass of stereotypes and collective representations, the symbols, 
ceremonials and all formal patterns of his culture, is based upon attitudes 
that have been developed through earlier contact with these culture 
forms. Some of these attitudes have been developed through formal 
indoctrination in the organized institutions; others have resulted from 
formal inculcation of favorable and unfavorable responses due to usage. 
Attitudes of color preference or odor preference are largely due to cul- 
turally determined tastes. Different people respond variably in their 
choices and preferences and revulsions and disgusts. These are cultural 
attitudes. The " group-mind" controversy is resolved for the sociologist 
in the existence of many common attitudes in the members of a culture 
group based on their learned cultural heritage. 

Collective attitudes are those which are developed in the individual 
by experience in groups, crowds and publics the more spontaneous 

1 Young, K., ed., Social Attitudes, 1931. 

* Cooley, C. H., Social Organization, Chaps. 4 and 5, 1918. 

Paris, E., "The Concept of Social Attitudes/' Jour. App. Sociol., 9: 404-409 
(1925); " Attitudes and Behavior/' Am. Jour. Sociol. t 34: 2: 271-281 (1928). 
Young, K., ed., Social Attitudes, pp. 3-16, 1931. 
Williams, J. M., Our Rural Heritage, 1925. 

Dewey, J., Human Nature and Conduct, 1922. Prof. Dewey does not use the 
term "attitude," but deals with the essential problem of the relation of culture forms 
to the "tendency to act" in the individual, substituting "habit" for "attitudes." 


and, in a sense, elementary forms of association. 1 The attitudes engen* 
dered in the individual by participation in a crowd or a mob, the emo- 
tional anger, hatred, exultation, feeling of unity with one's fellows and 
the like, are collective in the sense that they would not exist without 
participation in crowd or mob activity. They are related to the cultural 
attitudes, inasmuch as the objects of that group activity are culturally 
determined and the individual has attitudes on these; but the additional 
elements could not exist without group participation. The Southerner 
who becomes involved in a lynching mob already has a wide variety of 
somewhat contradictory and inconsistent attitudes with regard to the 
Negro; but that frenzied response to the sight of the victim is the especial 
product of the mob situation. He does not experience that group of 
attitudes when he is alone or when he judicially interviews the prisoner. 
Collective attitudes are experienced in a tribal war dance; in those 
responses to the god which are experienced only when a thousand sup- 
pliants are simultaneously prostrate; in that irrepressible titter at the 
socially gauche person at a formal reception; in the esprit de corps of 
troops; in all situations where the mere presence or awareness of a group 
is responsible for attitudes in the individual that would not otherwise 
exist. The members of such groups need not always be in physical 
proximity, although the most emotional of collective attitudes are 
usually developed in face-to-face situations. However, collective 
attitudes are likewise experienced by the individual as a member of 
secondary group associations. As one of several million American stamp 
collectors, he develops an attitude with regard to the importance and 
social maturity of his avocation. It is not puerile, it is popular. As a 
member of the Wild Life Protective Association, an attitude of authorita- 
tive knowledge tempers his discourse on birds. As a member of a 
fraternal order, he clasps that German brother whom as a national 
he might have shot. 


Are attitudes specific in the sense of tendencies to respond in a 
definite way to a particular situation, or may attitudes develop into 
general dispositions to respond to a whole class of phenomena? This 
is a highly controversial point in psychology. 2 It has recently been 
disputed once more owing to the conclusions of Hartshorne and May 
in their character education studies. They found that in children's 

1 Park, R. E., and Burgess, E. W. f Introduction to the Science of Sociology, Chap. 
13, 1921. 

1 Cantril, H., "General and Specific Attitudes," Psychol. Mon., 1932, 42, No. 192. 

Hartshorne, H., and May, M., Studies in th* future of Character. 3 vol.. 1928. 

Allport, op. cit. 


school experiences readiness to cheat varied with the type of situation 
and was not a general attitude. However, it has been argued that 
the children were too young to have developed generalizations from their 
experiences. Cantril, on the other hand, concluded in his study of 
general and specific attitudes that " general determining tendencies 
are more constant and enduring than specific content." That there 
are general attitudes would be the contention of almost all sociologists, 
although they have no experimental literature to present in evidence. 
However, they have long maintained the idea of general attitudes in 
discussions of race relations, of attitude toward nationalities 1 and of the 
specific attitudinal base of stereotypes of groups, classes, types, associa- 
tions and institutions. Apparently, both kinds of attitudes do exist. 
There are quite evidently specific attitudes developed by the individua 1 
toward particular objects, people and ideas. Attitudes as tendencies to 
act are developed in relation to material objects, animate beings and 
psychological processes. As a small boy, the author was given an air 
rifle. With it he happily prowled the hillsides for several summers, 
pursuing sparrows with more or less skill. Twenty-five years later, 
in an introspective moment, he realized that to this day sparrows are 
targets to him. When a sparrow is sighted, he frequently notes its 
position, the intervening obstacles, the best angle for a shot, and has a 
vague sense of the plump of the bullet as it will enter through the breast 
feathers. He has an attitude toward sparrows. 

There are also general attitudes toward classes of objects, people 
and ideas. Moreover, these general attitudes are sometimes the result 
of generalizing from a few experiences of a particular sort, and others 
are inculcated from the general culture. Clearly, two individuals 
differ very greatly in the proportions in which specific or general attitudes 
dominate their behavior. These differences are as yet ill-understood, 
and classifications of personality types on this basis have not been made. 
This is a basic problem for the student of public opinion, determining the 
viewpoints that he may take on the stereotyping processes, on specific 
propaganda material versus the inculcation of principles and on many 
other problems. 


Of many of his attitudes the individual is aware. He is conscious of, 
and perhaps discusses, his attitude toward the "damyankee," the 
"dago," fascism or mother's cooking. Of other attitudes he is not 
conscious, or at least only intermittently conscious. Most of the values 
incorporated from the general culture into individual attitudes come 
to appear as indisputable mores and are applied as the only cultural 

1 Bogardus, E. S., Immigration and Race Attitudes, 1928. 


reality. The responses of students in introductory cultural anthropology 
indicate a wide range of attitudes of which they are only slowly and 
sometimes painfully becoming aware. The concept of unconscious 
attitudes has been central to psychoanalytic theory. The Freudian 
i ' censor " is a general attitude on sex behavior, on religion, or what not, 
that will not permit the conscious consideration of certain materials 
and viewpoints. This necessitates the circuitous and labored emergence 
of the forbidden materials through symbolic forms of language, dream 
and imagery. The psychoanalysts have also stressed the emotional 
elements in most attitudes. 

An individual's attitude pattern about any subject may consist of 
some conscious and many unconscious or subconscious elements. A 
professed liberal may be secretly relieved when the strike is broken, when 
the tabooed subject is repressed, when the too radical colleague is sup- 
pressed. That behavior is so frequently widely at variance with certain 
attitudes of the individual is not surprising, for on a given point he has 
many other attitudes in his attitude pattern. He may be inconsistent,, 
especially superficially inconsistent. Enjoyment of innuendo, of the 
joke of double entendre, may be only superficially inconsistent for the 
deacon. Moreover, inasmuch as that section of attitudes which we 
have designated as group, cultural or common attitudes are but the 
incorporation of culture into individual attitudes, the inconsistency 
of the cultural elements to each other will be reflected in individual 
attitude. General consistency is never achieved. Because the attitude 
pattern is often so very complex, knowledge of a few attitudes of which 
the individual is conscious never provides, with absolute certainty, a 
basis of prediction of what that person will do in a crisis. The very fact 
of crisis may call forth attitudes of which he has not been conscious, 
or he may acquire new attitudes from the changed situation that has 
caused the crisis. Actually, behavior and known attitude are, of course, 
not so chaotic as that. In social interaction we do successfully predict 
behavior from assumed attitudes. In crisis experiences or in unusual 
situations to which adjustment must be made, such prediction is most 
unsuccessful because there emerge both attitudes that have been latent 
and new attitudes that are produced as a result of the new situation. 
Not only individuals but members of large publics become more unpre- 
dictable in a crisis, 


The infinite variety of human attitudes and attitude change is obvi- 
ous. Classifications have at times been attempted. Bernard, although 
he recognizes that attitudes are as numerous as relationships between 
people, attempts a classification according to several general criteria, the 


most significant of which are: the collective relationships that standardize 
and stereotype attitudes through interconditioning (urban, rural, sec- 
tarian, racial, nationalistic, political, occupational, etc.); the objective 
or aim of the behaving person (humanitarian, exploiting, protective); 
the valuation placed upon the objective or the technique utilized (approv- 
ing, discouraging, etc.); the object calling forth the attitudinal response 
(attitudes toward money, radicals, sex, etc.); the time reference of the 
attitude (traditional, progressive, temporary, permanent, etc.). 1 But 
any classification must be limited to those common attitudes which are 
assumed to be widely distributed. Nor has any classification yet pro- 
pounded included any large proportion of all the common attitudes. 
For the organization of lists of attitude is dependent upon the frame of 
reference and the classifier's purpose in making it. The individual 
attitudes to which we have already referred are obviously so diverse, 
varied and unique as to make classification impossible. Moreover, it is 
at once apparent that when we attempt to classify any section of those 
common attitudes which many people may be assumed to share, we are 
dealing, not with ultimate units, but with combinations in varying 
proportions of other attitudes. This confusion is evidenced in language 
forms, of which every novelist, but not every psychologist or sociologist, 
is aware. There do not exist adequate and mutually exclusive terms 
for such a classification. Consider a common attitude, such as the prepa- 
ration for action of the type of holding fast, of resisting intrusion, of 
immobility, of unyieldingness, which we designate as " firmness. 11 This 
term lacks scientific precision, but not more so than most terms for 
attitudes. It not only has different meanings in conjunction with various 
words, but there is a different favorable or unfavorable response to it in 
connection with different social situations. In general, in our culture, 
firmness is approved. Assumed attitudes of unyieldingness of which 
we do not approve are otherwise designated. It has been said, "I am 
firm, thou art obstinate, he is pigheaded." It is quite evident that, 
among other difficulties, there does not exist a terminology for an exten- 
sive classification of common attitudes. This difficulty is not insoluble, 
but it has not been solved. However, any classifier may, if he will, 
carefully define his terms and attempt to have them more widely used 
with his meanings. 

The classification of all attitudes is clearly impossible. But lists of 
common attitudes are developed depending upon the author's purpose 
and viewpoints. Even these classifications are by no means satisfactory, 

1. Attitudes are not units but complexes of other attitudes. As such 
they are general tendencies to modes of response, not to particular 

> Bernard, L. L., "Social Attitude," Eney. Soc. Sci., 2: 306. 


responses. And, as Maclver has stated, "When we attribute an attitude 
to a person, such as love or fear or pity, we do not completely express 
the state of consciousness so described. . . . the integral attitude is too 
complex for such summary description. All that we mean is that the 
attitude factor so named is dominant or at least recognizable in the sub- 
ject. Our pity, for example, may contain love and fear as well." 1 Atti- 
tudes are not independent entities. 

2. The existing language forms are totally inadequate to distinguish 
even common attitudes. 

3. Attitudes shade into one another, and arbitrary classifications may 
distort reality. 

4. Even if idealized classifications are developed, the comparison of 
individuals A and B, who are said to have that common attitude, is only 
approximate, because the ingredients of the attitude in each may be in 
different proportions. However, fruitful results have been obtained by 
acting "as if" they were comparable. 


When an overt expression on a controversial point appears, we have 
an opinion. Although usually expressed in language forms, it may be 
indicated by gestures, signs or symbols. "Thumbs down" decided a 
dramatically controversial point in the Roman amphitheatre; the nod 
of the judge, examining in camera during the political conflicts of the 
Middle Ages, might mean the prisoner's release or his extermination 
depending upon the system of signals. Any expression of opinion, 
therefore, involves attitudes. As a form of action it involves, first, a 
number of physical and muscular attitudes. Psychologists still use the 
term "attitude" to refer to motor preparedness. After behaviorism, 
there was a futile attempt to describe opinion in such terms. But 
"laryngeal behavior," has never proved helpful to those attempting to 
account for the opinions of the citizens of Kentucky on the World Court. 
Then there are the various predispositions that have found expression 
in the stated opinion. And these may be many and varied; predisposi- 
tions toward the questioner if the situation is face to face; toward his 
voice, tones, facial expression, and the like; toward his attitudes on the 
subject under discussion; toward the attitudes on that subject of the 
persons who are thought to be associated with the questioner; the attitude 
pattern of the person interviewed with regard to the problem itself; 
perhaps scores of other predispositions. Is it any wonder that the early 
naive tests, questionnaires, interviews and other modes of attempting to 
bring the "real attitude" into overt opinion behavior, based as they were 
on so simple a concept of the nature of attitudes and their interaction, 

1 Maclver, R. M., Society, p. 44, 1937. 


proved so discouraging? To be sure, opinions always express attitudes, 
but which attitudes? The attempts to distinguish attitudes and to 
isolate the ones related to an expressed opinion have been a special inter- 
est of the social scientists for the past fifteen years. 

One of the sociologist's fundamental dilemmas is the problem of the 
extent to which he, as a student of the forms and structures of social life 
and of processes of interaction, may profitably concern himself with the 
phenomena of attitudes. The cultural and collective attitudes, as we 
have seen, are abstracted from the general culture and from group 
experience and incorporated in the individual tendency to act. In 
addition, individual social attitudes are developed from direct experience 
with persons and situations. And, finally, personal experience may be 
generalized in the stereotypes, categories and classifications which the 
individual develops, as well as those which he receives from the common 
culture. All these social attitudes, cultural, collective and individual, 
motivate behavior in human interaction. 

The attitudes and attitude patterns cannot be ignored by the sociolo- 
gist. He must assume their existence if he would make certain aspects 
of human relations and the social processes of any culture intelligible. 
Without such assumptions, descriptive systems cannot be completely 
and logically organized. On the other hand, he cannot occupy himself 
with the welter of individual attitudes. This is the chaotic field of a 
number of special disciplines, and there is no apparent limit to the 
ramifications involved. The sociologist's interest is in the common social 
attitudes, the cultural and collective attitudes. But these he has not 
adequately listed and described, because, as we have seen, they are not 
distinct units, they shade into one another; and no adequate terminology 
has been developed for even the general " tendencies." So he is pursued 
by a conceptual Frankenstein which he can neither ignore nor escape. 
Lacking a solution and often lacking a clear-cut statement of the problem, 
he has usually been forced to round out his descriptions of behavior with 
vague and ill-defined terms for the attitudes to which such behavior was 
assumed to be related. It is not that the sociologist wanted to base his 
descriptions of the social order upon these subjective states. Of this 
particularistic fallacy the work of the American sociologist has been 
singularly free, perhaps because of his general preoccupation with 
description of specific social situations rather than the building of systems 
of sociology. But there remained the need of relating the culture forms 
to individual attitudes, and this has never been satisfactorily done. 


I conclude, therefore, that the imaginations which people have of one 
another are the solid facts of society, and that to observe and interpret 
these must be a chief aim of sociology. 1 

The persistent interest in attitudes has developed, not only from the 
need to complete a theoretical schema, but also from the observed 
relationship between certain attitudes and successful life adjustment 
within our culture. Personnel workers, psychiatrists, educators, social 
workers and others have attempted to study, through various simple 
measurements and tests, certain social attitudes of the individual. For 
example, one type of attitude that has been extensively investigated with 
experimental techniques is that of interests. It is maintained that 
interests and aversions are closely related to successful adjustment. 
Therefore, general interest inventories have been developed and stand- 
ardized by personnel workers and educators. Clusters of interests, 
characteristic of variously classified groups, social and mechanical, intro- 
verted and extroverted, professional groups, student groups, and the like, 
have been isolated. 2 The direction of activity and the quality and 
quantity of accomplishment are correlated with interests. There- 
fore, tests and questionnaires designed to disclose interests have been 

Bent on the recording and measuring of attitudes, the corporals of 
research have marched from many quarters armed with an odd assort- 
ment of tools. Before reviewing their approach, attacks, defeats and 
results, we shall briefly consider the problem of measurement. 


Measurement, the quantifying of data, has been introduced as 
method into ever new fields of social relations and of psychological phe- 
nomena. Tests of intelligence, interests, personality traits, ethical 
judgment, leadership and scores of other types of tests are the common- 
place of contemporary educational and psychological practice. But 
measurement as description may be more erroneous and perverted than 
word description. As Chapin states, "There is nothing about measure- 

1 Cooley, C. H., Human Nature and the Social Order, p. 121. 

1 Fryer, D., The Measurement of Interests, 1931. Fryer has critically sum- 
marized thia field of psychological investigation. 



mcnt as a form of scientific description which makes it intrinsically and 
absolutely superior. . . . The great advantage of measurement as 
quantitative scientific description is that it is more susceptible of accurate 
recording, independent verification and transmission than are other 
methods such, for instance, as the case method/' 1 These advantages 
can be achieved, however, only if the fundamental principles of measure- 
ment are followed. These are a standard unit of measurement and a 
scale on which to measure. Counting may be distinguished from meas- 
urement. In counting there is an enumeration of units, but these are 
not stated in terms of some scale and, hence, are not measured. To 
measure, the units must be set off against some scale of numerical values. 
A great deal of so-called "measurement" in the social studies violates 
one or the other of these criteria. In much of the quantitative material 
the units are not standardized, and in very little is there actual measure- 
ment of units against a scale. The sociologist deals for the most part 
with phenomena that have been referred to in general verbal terms but 
have not been expressed in terms of numerical symbols and reduced to 
verifiable units. Of those which have been dealt with quantitatively 
there has been more counting than measurement. Chapin notes, 
"When we count the number of potatoes in a pile on the floor, this act 
does not measure the potatoes. It is only when we place all the potatoes 
in a container which is by convention called a bushel basket that we 
measure the number of potatoes. The bushel is an arbitrary unit of 
volume. . . . Voting behavior, or votes, are something to be measured 
against an arbitrary scale. To count the number of votes and to call 
this act measurement is like counting the number of potatoes in the pile. 
To measure votes we must set them off against some arbitrary scale of 
numerical values. Perhaps an attitude scale." 2 

However, the problem of recording attitudes by measurement allows 
of only approximate accuracy in the isolation of units. For, as we have 
already stated, an attitude is a complex "tendency to act" and not a 
unit. It may be modified in many ways, as it has been created in many 
ways. Therefore, although the inert asing variety of categories, according 
to which the attitudes of a group of people toward anything may be 
recorded, makes for a narrowing of the distinctions and, hence, for a nearer 
approximation of units of measurement, it must be admitted that these 
mental units of measurement are not units in the same sense as physical 
entities are units. This holds true not only for the attempted measure- 
ment of attitudes, but for that of interests and other subjective phenom- 
ena. It is clear that of ten people expressing a dislike for Orientals, the 
general attitude may be held for many different reasons, physical distaste, 

1 Chapin, F. S., Contemporary American Institutions, p. 353, 1935. 

9 Chapin, op. cit., pp. 356, 357. Reprinted by permission of Harper & Brothers. 


economic competition, childhood conditioning, and the like. Indeed, to 
make the person's attitude intelligible, it is necessary to know something 
of the background of experience out of which it developed. And that 
would determine in part his behavior as related to that attitude and the 
conditions under which it would be changed. As we isolate more and 
more the clusters of individuals who approximate one another's position, 
we approach the isolation of units. However, we can never do so except 
in an approximate sense, which is true of other subjective " units of 
measurement" also. It has proved very profitable to act "as if" these 
were units. Indeed, in almost all psychological measurement, the 
probability of relations is the basis for measurement. Thus, if a scale 
of opinions is developed, it is necessary to proceed "as if" two people 
whose opinions have placed them on the same point on the scale had 
identical attitudes. Otherwise there can be no units of measurement. 

Moreover, in the development of a scale it must be assumed that the 
points on a scale from, say, one to ten are qualitatively the same, but quan- 
titatively more or less. Actually in dealing with social phenomena this 
is seldom true. In terms of social interaction a group of 100 people is 
not ten times ten people, but qualitatively something different, and a 
family of ten is not two times a family of five. This same problem is 
met in the measuring of material phenomena also, but not so generally 
as in social and psychological measurement. As F. Znaniecki has stated: 

Quantitative variations as directly experienced in the social field are still 
essentially variations in degrees of irreducible qualities and a degree which is 
quantitatively higher or lower than another is also qualitatively different. 
Strictly speaking, the latter is also true of many quantitative variations in the 
domain of nature; thus, various degrees of heat are experienced as not only 
quantitatively, but also qualitatively different. Quantification of natural 
phenomena has become possible only because for each non-measurable gradation 
a measurable parallel or equivalent has been found, which allowed us to ignore 
as irrelevant for certain scientific purposes the variations of quality which in 
concrete experience are inseparable from quantitative variations. Thus, in 
measuring temperature the gradual expansion of certain bodies was substituted 
as a purely quantitative equivalent for the experiences of gradation of heat and 
cold as empirical characteristics of reality. 1 

Although such assumptions as to both units and scale must be made 
in opinion measurement, we should critically examine the studies in this 
field to ensure that the assumptions, once made, have been consistently 

If attitudes as subjective phenomena can be measured, it may be 
done only indirectly through a record of speech and other behavior. 

1 From Znaniecki, F., The Method of Sociology, p. 310, 1934. Reprinted by per- 
mission of the publishers, Farrar & Rinehart, Inc. 


When behavior, verbal or otherwise, displays any consistency, it is 
assumed to be related to stable human attitudes. But the determination 
of consistency may require a long-time record of behavior, and, moreover, 
a type of record that does not lend itself readily to quantitative treat- 
ment. And this is a fundamental problem on which the attitude testers 
and those who do not believe in the quantitative record disagree. Both 
agree that you get to know and observe attitudes and other subjective 
states in actions and behavior, but those who oppose testing maintain 
that, in attempting to apply mechanical quantitative techniques to 
attitude records, the testers betray their lack of understanding of the 
nature of attitudes, of the complexity and changeableness of attitude. 
The testers retort that of course no single numerical index will describe 
everything about an attitude but that, in testing, certain well-defined 
aspects of the general attitude may be thus recorded. The non-testers 
reply that an attitude is more than the sum of its parts. Which, of 
course, it is. But, on the other hand, valuable insights into the nature 
of attitudes may be gained if the changes in certain aspects of an 
attitude may be quantitatively recorded, for these changes may then be 
correlated with the individual's experience, behavior and other attitudes 
in the interim. Attitudes are not static, and the tester must not act 
as if they were. The ultimate object is to learn how and why they 
change. But the "how" and "why" of changed attitudes are not unre- 
lated to "how much." And here the tester may render a service. If he 
can set the time limits within which change in some aspect of an attitude 
has occurred and if he can report how great the change has been, he 
may then relate this change to the intervening experiences of the indi- 
vidual, in so far as is possible. And if the tester cannot adequately 
describe an attitude in all its aspects, he can certainly provide data for 
the non-tester in his inductive approach. The fundamental difference 
between them remains. The non-tester will not act "as if" the units 
were invariable units and the opinion scale a quantitative scale. How- 
ever, knowledge has frequently been advanced by such assumptions. 


There have been so many studies of attitudes during the past fifteen 
years that a summary or review of all of them would not be profitable. 
In the reference list for this section many of the more important con- 
tributions to this field are classified. Comprehensive bibliographies of 
attitude studies have been compiled during the past few years so that 
the materials, though widely scattered, are now accessible. 1 Moreover, 

1 Lasswell, H. D., Casey, R. D., and Smith, B. L., Propaganda and Promotional 
Activities (An Annotated Bibliography), pp. 344-372 (1935). 

Childs, H. L., A Reference Guide to the Study of Public Opinion, pp. 81-90, Prino* 


the attitude studies have already been summarized by a number of 
writers who have provided varied classificatory systems of types of 
studies. 1 Their classifications have been either of types of attitudes 
or of methods of attempting to measure attitudes. An analysis and 
comparison of these systems of classification would not further our under- 
standing of attitude measurement, until we had described at some 
length a basis of classification with which others could be compared. 
The following simple basis of classification in terms of types of measure- 
ment is proposed: (1) yes-or-no, true-or-false and cross-out tests; (2) 
essay type or case method; (3) multiple-choice tests; (4) rating tests; 
(5) ranking tests; (6) an attitude scale; (7) the Thurstone scale; (8) 
tests in which there is an Attempt to compare opinion and behavior as 
indicating attitude. Some of these types have appeared in other classi- 
fications. We shall describe one or two studies that illustrate the use 
of each method and then consider some of the uses and limitations of 
each type. Further examples will be found in the appropriate classifica- 
tions in the reference list. The studies described are not necessarily 
definitive studies that have made the utmost use of their methods and 
critically sought out the weaknesses thereof. They are merely illustra- 
tive. However, the works of Watson, Bogardus, Allport and Hartman, 
and Thurstone have led in their turn to widespread discussion and 
critical examination. 


Some years ago it was usual to seek solutions of educational and social 
problems by tabulating from questionnaires the responses of the subjects 
on statements of fact or of opinion on some controversial point. Indeed, 
the questionnaire, still widely used, has many legitimate functions, 
provided that it is used in accordance with the principles which have been 

ton University Press, 1934. 

Murphy, G. f and Murphy, L. B., Experimental Social Psychology, pp. 690-694, 

Bain, R., "Theory and Measurement of Attitudes and Opinions/* Psychol. 
BuUn., 27: 357-379 (1930). 

1 Droba, D. D., "Methods for Measuring Attitudes," Psychol BuUn., 29: 309-323; 
"Methods Used for Measuring Public Opinion/' Am. Jour, of Sociol, 37: 410-423. 

Albig, W., "The Quantitative Measurement of Social Attitudes," PuU. Mich. 
Acad. Sci., 10: 103-115. 

Symonds, P. M., Diagnosing Personality and Conduct, 1931. 

Bain, op. dt. 

Katz, D., and Allport, P. H., Students 9 Attitudes, Chap. 20, 1931. 

Murphy and Murphy, op. cit. 9 Chap. 11. 

Lundberg, G., Social Research, Chap. 9, 1929. 

Thurstone, L. L., "The Measurement of Social Attitudes," Jour. Abn. Soc. 
Psychol, 26; 249-269, 


established through extensive use. Questionnaires may be classified as: 

(1) those asking for facts which the reporter has observed; (2) those 
asking for facts to be found in records; (3) those asking for reactions of 
the individual, such as beliefs, preferences, likes and dislikes, wishes, 
judgments and choices. 1 It is to the third type that attitude question- 
naires belong. For some years, until about 1930, they were very exten- 
sively circulated, asking thousands of questions to be answered "yes" 
or "no" about the attitude of the individual members of many scores 
of groups. The attempt to collect opinions in this fashion developed, 
in part, from: (1) the wide gaps in information about prevalent social 
attitudes of which the social scientists were becoming acutely aware, 

(2) a lack of clear concepts of the nature of attitudes, (3) the growth of 
quantifying in other fields of social knowledge, (4) the ease with which 
these questionnaires could be constructed and answered, (5) a general 
belief that a majority is likely to be right, and (6) the ease with which 
the results could be compiled, a process of simple counting. Although 
the simple questionnaire serves a useful purpose, at times, in recording 
factual information, it is needless to emphasize that this method has 
been used with laborious futility when the questions have been direct 
requests to indicate an attitude "yes" or "no" by statements of opinion 
on controversial issues. For example, a social-attitudes questionnaire 
contained such questions as: 

Should a city hold community pageants or celebrations? 
Should mosquitoes be killed at public expense? 
Should a city provide parks liberally? 

Should a man be required by his employers to work regularly over eight hours 
a day? 

Should America follow a policy of isolation? 2 

And again: 

Is God a person? 

Is God an impersonal Force? 

Does God interfere in the world by providences, miracles, etc.? 

Was Jesus Very God? 

Was the Bible verbally inspired by God? 3 

1 Rugg, H. 0., Statistical Methods Applied to Education, 1917; quoted by Symonds, 
op. cit. 9 p. 123. 

* Symonds, P. M. f "A Social Attitudes Questionnaire/' Jour. Ed. Psychol., 16: 
316-322 (1925). There were over 100 questions in this test to be answered "yes" 
or "no." The liberal or conservative nature of the replies was then determined by 
the voting of five judges as to whether the question should have been answered "yes" 
or "no." The affirmative or negative votes of three of the five judges determined 
some of the answers. 

'Bain, R., "Religious Attitudes of College Students," Am. Jour. Socid., 32: 


Sometimes instead of having the questions answered "yes" or "no," 
the wording was "true" or "false"; and in other studies the subject 
merely checked in one column or another, indicated plus or minus or 
crossed out one or the other of the terms used. 

On the basis of our earlier discussion of the nature of attitudes, some 
of the limitations on the value of the use of such questionnaires aro 

1. An attitude is not an entity, but a complex of other attitudes in 
varying proportions. Moreover, an attitude of one individual may 
differ, in fine shadings, from that of another. In answers of "yes" or 
"no," these variations are ignored, quite different elements being thus 
forced into a single classification of opinion. This limited response 
provides a highly inaccurate opinion representative of the essential 
attitudes. Ten persons may respond "yes" to a statement indicating 
dislike of the Japanese. However, the essential components of their 
attitudes may be very dissimilar, being based on personal experience 
with Japanese, on newspaper reading, on economic competition and 
on scores of other items. For most purposes, this limited opinion is 
worthless for any understanding of human attitudes. 

2. The language difficulty leads to more serious error in the simple 
questionnaire than in any other form of measurement. In a response 
with a greater variety of possible positions, the words used may be mis- 
interpreted, but that may cause a variation of one position on a scale of 
five or ten places, whereas in the "yes" or "no" categories there may be 
a complete change of position from positive to negative due to language 
misunderstanding. The language meanings to the individual are a 
partly uncontrolled variable, as every tester knows. 

3. If, instead of simply counting the responses, there is an attempt to 
measure, that is, to indicate the relation of the answers to some standard 
(as in Symonds' assumption of liberalism or Conservatism in terms of the 
"yes" or "no" answers); then the standard is constructed by the experi- 
menter or by a limited group of judges. These judges, however, do not 
provide a valid scale for the group tested, since they themselves come 
from another group, often with varied attitudes. We shall consider this 
problem in greater detail in discussing the Thurstone test. 


Attitudes may be assumed from opinions expressed in written essays 
and in letters, case-history descriptions, autobiographies, diaries or 

762-770 (1927). An attitude test of sixteen questions was presented to 200 students. 
As already indicated, these selections are simply illustrative. The authors would 
use quite different methods today. Indeed, Prof. Bain has violently repudiated tfret 
attempt to record attitudes directly from opinions. 


oral or written interviews. These permit of an extensive range of 
expression, avoid the measurement limitations of the "yes-no" cate- 
gories but offer methodological problems in any attempt to classify and 
quantitatively to manipulate the results. In social practice, expressions 
of opinion in such forms have always been ascribed to the individual's 
attitudes, and in the case of representative writers, autobiographers 
and diarists, the common social attitudes of groups and of historic 
periods have been described. Not only these individual statements, 
but also group products, folk songs, folklore, proverbs and, indeed, 
most culture forms, are translated into the social attitudes that have 
motivated them. However, it is only in recent years that organized 
study of such sources as attitude records has been carried on by the social 

It has frequently been maintained by sociologists that life histories, 
letters, autobiographies, diaries, and the like, are superior to any form 
of attitude test, as the informal record is more likely to show the origins 
and development of attitudes. They are also less likely to be perverted 
by social pressures due to the presence of the questioner, interviewer 
or test giver. However, the writers of such personal expressions are 
subject to the social values of their culture incorporated in their attitudes; 
therefore, certain attitudes will be modified in their expression by other 
attitudes, and certain motivations may be elaborately rationalized or 
otherwise perverted. For example, descriptions of sex behavior and 
attitudes, in autobiographical literature from Rousseau to the recent 
queer psychological jumble of John Cowper Powys's Autobiography, 
indicate the shortcomings of purported confessional autobiography. 
And, indeed, Tolstoy and many others have complained of the pervasive 
informal popular censorship that modified their output in spite of 
intended frankness. 

Letters, diaries and other, types of statement not intended for general 
public perusal have been used by sociologists as indicating attitudes, 
especially since the monumental work twenty years ago of Thomas and 
Znaniecki on the Polish peasant. 1 Thousands of letters from Polish 
peasants in the homeland to immigrants in Chicago and from America 
to Poland provided one basis for the discussion of attitudes. Diaries 
have also been used somewhat by European and American sociologists 
and psychologists, especially psychoanalysts. These have been used 
for the study, not only of attitudes, but of other psychological phenom- 
ena. 2 One small study of attitudes as indicated by the subject matter 
of conversations was made by C. Landis, who generalizes on national 

1 Thomas, W. I., and Znaniecki, F., The Polish Peasant in Europe and America, 
2 vol., 1918. 

* Murphy and Murphy, op. cit. t pp. 570-574. 


differences from fragments of conversation overheard in New York and 
Columbus, Ohio, as compared with similar snatches overheard in the 
London streets. 1 He found differences in attitudes between the sexes 
implied in the tendency of the Englishman to adapt his conversation to 
the woman's interests, whereas the American woman more often adapts 
her conversation to the interests of her masculine companion. Also, 
English women talk more frequently of other women, while American 
women talk of clothes and men. In all such studies, the prob- 
lem of the adequacy of the sample must be kept constantly in mind. 
Does the sample afford a cross section of the phenomena considered? 
Usually the sample has not been adequate. All fragmentary materials 
must be carefully related to the group that is represented, and generali- 
zations beyond that group cannot be made. For example, W. F. Vaughan 
studied the content of 762 letters written to a Boston newspaper in 
which the writers attempted to state why they were going to vote for 
Hoover or Smith. 2 He concludes that the liquor question was the most 
important, that there were deep-seated emotional attitudes on both 
sides, that there was allegiance to groups and not to principles and that 
the religious issue was important. The source of his data was an ingen- 
iously chosen sample, but it is a sample only of those who write letters 
to newspapers, not of the general public. 

Of late years, all of these spontaneous expressions have tended to 
be superseded more and more by partially controlled forms, as the desire 
for comparable quantitative materials has developed. To quantify, 
it is necessary that there be some uniformity in content, arrangement of 
content, types of statements, and the like. An increasing number of 
studies based upon oral or written statements prepared at the behest 
of the questioner have appeared. About twenty years ago, J. H. Leuba 
studied brief essays written by 1000 men of science and college students 
on immortality and belief in a personal God. 3 B. Lasker has used this 
procedure in studying children's attitudes on race. 4 

In this type of brief essay the judgment as to meaning and assortment 
of answers rests with the investigator; it is therefore unstandardized 
and subject to error. S. A. Stouffer attempted to overcome this difficulty 
by employing four judges. 5 His subjects, 238 students who had taken 

l Landis, C., "National Differences in Conversation/' Jour. Abn. Soc. PsychoL, 
4: 354-357 (1927). 

1 Vaughan, W. F., "An Experimental Study of Political Prejudice/' Jour. Abn. 
Soc. Paychol., 25: 268-274. 

'Leuba, J. H., "The Belief in God and Immortality," Jour. Abn. Soc. Psychol., 
25: 268-274 (1930). 

4 Lasker, B., Race Attitudes in Children, 1929. 

Stouffer, S. A., An Experimental Comparison of Statistical and Case History 
Methods of Attitude Research, abstract of thesis, University of Chicago, 1929-1930. 
Also reported by Murphy and Murphy, op. cit. 9 p. 622. 


a Thurstone test on prohibition, wrote accounts of their opinions on 
prohibition. These essays were about 1000 words in length. Four 
judges read the essays and rated the attitudes of their writers on a scale 
of favorable to unfavorable to prohibition. The judges had a remarkably 
high agreement: the intercorrelations of ratings of each judge with the 
ratings of each other judge was + .87, the range being from +.83 to 

The oral interview, either following a definite outline or as apparently 
casual conversation, with the answers either transcribed at the time of 
the interview or written up later, presents special methodological prob- 
lems in addition to those of the brief essay. Its superiority over written 
forms lies in the spontaneity of response; j* the interview is made too 
formal, this advantage is lost. Further, the personal qualities of the 
questioner are introduced into the situation to a greater extent than in 
essay answers. Altogether, oral interviews are a much more difficult 
medium to arrange in any fashion permitting quantification. They are 
obviously useful for the collecting of informal, unstandardizcd accounts 
whereby some insight into the individual attitude process may be gained. 
Sometimes they have been transferred into simple quantitative terms 
by counting the answers common to a number of interviews. 

This procedure was used some years ago as a part of a study of 
opinions about Mexican immigrants in Flint, Mich. 1 A number of 
ranking tests were constructed from statements made by junior-college 
and high-school students about the thousand Mexicans who had recently 
migrated to that city. The tests were then given to 600 students 
throughout the city. In addition, the statements made during inter- 
views with several hundred neighbors, businessmen, school children, 
teachers, police, social workers and professional men were recorded. 
In these interviews the author informally worked into the conversations 
a brief list of questions but strove to keep the discussion as spontaneous 
as possible. From these records it was possible to count similarities in 
statement, and the quantitative results were appended to each chapter 
dealing with the interviews with the various groups. For example, in forty 
interviews with neighbors the following general assertions were made: 

1. The Mexicans of the neighborhood are: 

clean and neat 3 

slovenly and dirty 31 

not stated 6 

2, The Mexican children are: 

neighborhood nuisances 5 

well behaved 25 

not stated 10 

1 Albig, W., Group Opinion and the Mexican, thesis, University of Michigan 
Library, 1929. 


8. The Mexicans are very: 

shiftless and careless 34 

not stated 6 

4. They move too often, are not a solid element: 

true 34 

not stated 6 

5. The effects of the Mexican immigration on work are: 

bad, keeps wages down 17 

does not affect 5 

don't know 18 

6. Prices of houses in the neighborhood are: 

lowered 15 

not affected 8 

don't know 17 

7. The Mexican is accustomed to: 

go to church 16 

not to go to church 4 

not stated 20 

8. The Mexican people: 

drink and are quarrelsome 13 

are quiet 19 

not stated 8 

A sample of the interview records may be noted. 

Mr. B., student, age 19. 

These Mexicans are crowded all over the place. Next door to us they're so 
crowded they come out in the yard to eat. In the summer they eat out in the 
back yard, just walk around and eat, and then throw melon rinds and stuff all 
over the place. They're dirty as hogs. Sometimes they kinda dress up a little, 
the younger ones, but I don't think they're very clean. You know there's so 
many of them in that house next to us that I don't know how many there are. 
They seem to move around a good bit and new ones come in and out. 

I don't know how they get along. I used to work in an A and P store. They 
always bought good food, what they did buy, when they had money. The 
women are pretty dumb, they never do learn to talk. I delivered a box of peas 
one day which weren't what the woman wanted, and she was too dumb to tell me. 

The worst thing about these Mexicans is that they're stubborn and bull- 
headed. They fight, too. I work in a theater now, usher. I've had trouble 
with four or five Mexicans. They annoy women and I got to report them to the 
manager. There's lots of them go to this theater and they're the most stubborn 
and bull-headed people we got to handle. They're more particular than white 
people about sitting beside a nigger. They think the usher is just trying to put 
them there and they won't go. 

The desirability of the extended types of individual statement and 
of brief essays appears in the insight that may be gained into the individ- 
ual attitude process, the origins and development of attitudes. How* 


ever, they do not readily permit of quantitative analysis, because: (1) 
the providing of any formal outline of what to write about largely elim- 
inates spontaneity and hence defeats the investigator's purpose; (2) 
the treatment of the results is dependent upon the judge or judges who 
read the essays or documents, and the standard or scale that he or they 
set up is a standard valid only for the judges or persons of similar atti- 
tudes (this applies both to the attitudes that they ascribe to the writers 
and also to their interpretation of language); (3) the essential problem 
still remains, the relation between this form of opinion and other types of 
behavior. Clearly preferable to simple tests, however, these sources 
have provided more understanding of the attitude process in the indi- 
vidual than has been obtained elsewhere by the social sciences. The 
methods of quantifying them should be experimented with extensively. 
They do not have quantitative validity. 


As the range of response in the yes-or-no tests is too limited and as 
the essay, oral interview and other forms of extended response are so 
difficult to classify and score, some experimenters attempted a wider 
range of expression of opinion by providing a list of statements or words 
to be checked by the subjects. The situation might be presented in a 
paragraph or brief essay description, followed by a number of phrases or 
words, of which the subject was to check the one that most nearly agreed 
with his attitude. For example, in the Van Wagenen American History 
Scales, there are such tests as the following: 

Two American soldiers, Jasper and Newton, returning from scouting duty, 
were told that a man who had left the King's cause had been captured by the 
British. Eight guards were now taking him to Savannah, where he was to be 
hanged the next day. They hastened toward a spring a few miles from Savannah, 
where the guards would be likely to stop to get a drink. When the British came 
to the spring, they stopped to get a drink. Two of the guards were left to watch 
the prisoner. The rest stacked their guns against a tree. Leaping from their 
hiding place, Jasper and Newton each snatched a gun, shot the two guards and 
seized the rest of the muskets. The six unarmed guards surrendered and were 
marched along back to the American camp with the rescued prisoner. 

Draw a line under the three of the following words which you think best 
describe this action of Jasper and Newton: 

selfish treacherous daring cruel spiteful timid 
fearful brave bold cowardly. 1 

1 Van Wagenen, M. J., Historical Information and Judgment in Pupils of the 
Elementary Schools, 1919. Quoted by permission of Bureau of Publications, Teachers 
College, Columbia University. 


Another form of this type of test may be illustrated from the Allports' 
Ascendance-Submission Study. 1 A portion of their questions deal with 
behavior, but some of them attempt to elicit statements of attitude. 
Of the forty-one items of the test, there are a number like the following: 

Are you embarrassed if you have greeted a stranger whom you have mis- 
taken for an acquaintance? 

very much 


not at all 

Another variation is the word cross-out test. In an attempt to 
record fair-mindedness as an attitude, G. B. Watson used as the first 
part of the test fifty-one words such as bolshevist, mystic, Sunday blue 
laws, dancing, Unitarian, Holy Communion, and the like. The subject 
was instructed to cross out all those which he found annoying or distaste- 
ful. A tendency to cross out an unusually large number of words was 
taken as an indication of some sort of emotional set or conditioning. 2 

Although tests of these types may be indicative of some sort of 
emotional set, there are a number of difficulties involved in their use. 
There are obvious advantages in providing a concrete situation as the 
stimulus as Van Wagenen does, but how are the results to be classified? 
The language difficulty is very apparent here. The terms are not 
mutually exclusive. They are not terms that have clear, definite mean- 
ings to the subjects. Nor are the categories scaled to clear-cut stages 
or steps of attitude difference. Just what is the line between "very 
much" and "somewhat"? Moreover, the descriptive words have been 
provided by the tester; perhaps the students tested would have developed 
a quite different list as significantly descriptive of that situation. The 
tester has, in part, projected his own attitudes by his selection of words. 
Moreover, the order and arrangement of the words may be significant 
factors. It has recently been pointed out that position may be so impor- 
tant in tests with alternate responses as to invalidate all the rest of the 
test. A response word when printed above its alternative was marked 
33.8 per cent more often than when it was printed below its alternative. 
A response word when printed to the left of its alternative was marked 
3.2 per cent more often than when printed at the right of its alternative. 
This source of perverting statements is likewise applicable to other types 
of tests. In spite of the limitations of the multiple-choice tests, we find 
some advance here as the range of response has been widened. But 
there is no adequate basis for measurement. 

1 Allport, G. W., and Allport, F. H., A-S Reaction Study, 1928. 
1 Watson, Q. B., The Measurement of Fair-mindedness, 1925. 



Anotl^r common form of attitude test is a rating device whereby 
a choice may be made of one of various degrees of opinion about a given 
question. In different tests the degrees of opinion have been presented 
in three, five, to as many as twenty-one categories. For example, a 
statement of opinion may be preceded by: "certainly right/' "probably 
right/' "doubtful," "probably wrong," "certainly wrong"; or by +2, 
+1, 0, 1, 2; or by some other arrangement, one item of which is to 
be checked by the subject. Lund used a rating system in which there 
were twenty-one positions ranging from "belief allowing for no doubt" 
at +10 to "disbelief allowing for no doubt" at -10. 1 The difficulty of 
attempting introspectively to divide any attitude into twenty hypotheti- 
cal divisions must have been a considerable strain upon the imaginations 
of those taking the test. How large a number of positions may be used 
in a rating device to deal with subjective phenomena? This can only 
be determined experimentally with specific material, but it is doubtful 
if more than five or seven positions could be successfully coped with by 
even a trained and serious student. Moreover, this is a rating device 
of abstract positions that are not objectified by indicating some con- 
comitant behavior. In general, especially for tests to be widely admin- 
istered, those rating tests are better which indicate a specific type of 
behavior as indicative of attitude. A more objective approach of this 
sort is made by Bogardus in his social distance tests. 2 In these, the 
subject was asked to indicate his attitudes toward various nationality 
and racial groups by responses to questions as to his willingness to admit 
members of those groups to seven degrees of relationship. For example, 
the responses of 1725 Americans to forty different races were recorded 
by percentages. 

Table V shows the first four, the middle four, and the last four 
of the nationalities in the results of one of the Bogardus social-distance 
tests. 8 These tests represent a distinct advance over the preceding ones. 
Concrete potential behavior situations are substituted for abstract 
degrees of relationship. This makes for greater standardization in the 
understanding and response of the subjects to the steps. For example, 
the distinction between admitting to a club or to marriage is a difference 
in intimacy of relationships understood by the subject in a way that 
+5 and +3 on an abstract scale of attitudes is not differentiated. As 
the subjects' responses lie on a more common base, these tests have 

!Lund, F. H., "The Psychology of Belief/' Jour. Abn. Sac. PsychoL, 20: 63-81. 

2 Bogardus, E. S., Immigration and Race Attitudes, 1928. Also numerous articles 
in Sociology and Social Research. 

3 Bogardus, op. cit., p. 25. 



uses for comparative purposes. On the other hand, several points are 
apparent. (1) We do not have a scale in which the steps are of equal 
size, in that the intervals are similar. That is, we have no basis for 
judging the relative importance in decreasing intimacy between admission 
to kinship by marriage and to club membership and between admission 
to club membership and to the street as neighbor. Although there is 
apparently a general scale of stages of decreasing intimacy, it is not a 
measured scale. The steps are unknown. (2) The list of nationalities 


Regarding races 



& o 




fl 03 



z a 

"" n 

f? S 

o w *3 

H 630 

Tr my street w 
as neighbors 

To employment 
in my ^ 

To citizenship 
in my en 






Would exclude 
from my ^ 






95 9 

1 7 


Americans. . . . 

90 1 

92 4 


92 4 

90 5 

1 2 















93 3 

1 7 









3 3 










8 8 

19 3 

23 8 

38 3 

51 6 


4 6 








9 5 







45 2 

22 4 






47 4 

22 7 

16 8 








13 8 






23 7 

47 1 

19 1 

was chosen by the investigator. These are not necessarily nationalities 
on which even a majority of the subjects have stereotypes and attitudes. 
(3) In such an extensive list of nationalities the subject may be unable 
to imagine the possibility of personal situations involving such choices 
with all of those on the list and yet be unwilling to acknowledge, even 
under the cloak of anonymity, lack of information or experience with 
regard to any one of the groups. (4) In this, as in other rating scales, 
the points on the scale are developed by the investigator on the basis 
of a logical arrangement, rather than from the attitudes of those tested. 
Related to this logical assumption of steps is the belief that the acceptance 
of each degree of intimacy implies a willingness to accept the succeeding 
ones. This is not necessarily true. 



The drder-of-merit method is a simple type of measurement that the 
psychologist constantly uses. It has frequently been used in tests of 
judgment of weights, measures, sizes, colors, and the like. The materials 
of the test vary with the subject under consideration, but the principle 
is that of arrangement of units into scaled order by the person tested. 
This ranking of items does not make any assumptions with regard to the 
size of the intervals between the steps. That is, if there are eight objects 
to be placed in order of increasing weight, the differences in weight 
between that in the first position and that in the second position and 
between the second and third are not equal. One may be many times 
the other. Likewise, in the application of this method to the ranking 
of subjective states, there is no assumption of a scale with known steps. 
A study of statistical ethics, largely based upon this principle of ranking, 
was carried on for many years by A. P. Brogan. 1 After a series of 
questionnaires, in which students were asked to list the most reprehensible 
practices that they knew, he selected the sixteen that were most fre- 
quently mentioned. These were presented to class after class for ranking 
according to order of merit. This procedure illustrates one sound 
principle. The materials of which the test was constructed were taken 
from the same group as those later tested, or from a group similar to 
theirs. The students could therefore be expected to have attitudes 
toward the practices about which they were asked. The projecting of 
materials from the experimenter upon his group has been a serious short- 
coming of all the tests we have so far considered. The ranking method, 
however, in addition to not being a measured scale, has one other basic 
limitation. How many items may be utilized in a ranking of attitudes? 
If the list is long, will there be an increase of inaccuracy toward the end 
of the list? For example, if a student is asked to list sixteen unethical 
practices or to enumerate twenty-five national groups in the order of 
their social distance from the subject, is there not the probability that the 
first named will be the most obnoxious practices or nationalities, that 
those toward the middle of the list will be the least obnoxious, and that 
the ones at the end will represent practices or nationalities which the 
student utilizes merely to fill in the requisite number? When the ranking 
of size or weight of units is used in a psychological test, the units are 
at least present to each subject. In the classification of opinions the 
units are not all necessarily of significance to each subject. The subject 
may have no attitude on which to base an opinion of a Korean, let us 
say, or of some unethical practice. He is asked, however, to rank in 

1 Brogan, A. P., "Problems and Methods in Statistical Ethics/ 1 Pub. Am. Sociri. 
Soc.,21: 174-177. 



order of merit twenty-five nationalities or sixteen ethical practices. He 
has attitudes on fifteen and ten, respectively. Yet he must complete 
the requisite number. The test is not analogous to one in which twenty 
physical units are placed before the subject for discrimination. The 
number of items that may be used in a ranking of attitudes can be 
determined only in relation to the particular subject matter. This has 
not been done in attitude measurement. However, it is possible to 
discriminate between a limited number of items, and we may illustrate 
from the author's study in race relationship, referred to earlier in this 
chapter. From statements made by junior-college students in Flint, 
the statements most frequently appearing on the Mexican's physical 


Reason number 

















































11. 1 
















characteristics, health, results of miscegenation, mental ability, tempera- 
ment, political capability and economic capability were developed into 
a series of ranking tests. Those taking the test were asked to rank in 
the order of their validity five statements on each subject. A sample 
of statements and of the results obtained from one group may be cited 
as an illustration of ranking-test procedure. 


(Number in Group 100) 

I would deny citizenship to a Mexican, because: 

1. Domination and superstition have made him incapable of understanding demo* 

cratic principles. 

2. Although he may ultimately be politically capable, he is not now capable. 

3. The average. of intelligence of the Mexican has been shown to be so low that he is 

unfit for citizenship. 

1 Albig, op. cit. t p. 109. 


4. Some Mexican immigrants might be good citizens, but the majority would not 

be; therefore, the only practical procedure is exclusion of all on the basis of 

5. The Mexican laborer is an economic peril, and to deny citizenship is one step in 

exclusion from immigration. 

Percentage of males denying citizenship 64 

Percentage of females denying citizenship 80 

Percentage of both denying citizenship 72 

In Table VI one may note that 32 per cent of the subjects state that 
reason 1 is the most important reason for denying citizenship to Mexicans; 
23.6 per cent maintain that reasons 2 and 3 are second in importance, 
and so on. 


An early study by Allport and Hartman had a considerable influence 
in stimulating later studies of attitude. 1 Thurstone, who has worked 
extensively in this field, credits this study with arousing his interest. It 
was the first study that attempted to create a scale on which attitudes 
could be measured. The purposes of the study were (1) to develop a scale 
technique for measuring the distribution of opinion upon public questions 
and (2) to inquire into the psychological characteristics of those who 
adopt certain attitudes upon such questions. It is the first of these two 
objectives that interests us at this point. Seven issues of political inter- 
est, selected by the testers, were given to sixty upper-class students, who 
were asked to write their views on them. The resulting essays were read 
by six judges, who abstracted the principal statements of opinion from 
them and arranged these opinions in order from one logical extreme to the 
other. On each of the seven issues these statements were then mixed, so 
as not to be in order as arranged by the judges, and presented to 367 
students. On each issue the student was to check one statement that 
most nearly expressed his opinion. For example, on the League of 
Nations question he could choose from twelve statements; on the quali- 
fications of President Coolidge, from ten statements ; on the distribution of 
wealth he could choose from five positions, and the like. The results were 
then arranged along the original scale as developed by the judges and the 
percentages of the persons taking the test who chose each statement 
as representing their opinions were distributed along this line. The 
results were graphed. For example, on the qualifications of Mr. Coolidge, 
the percentages of the students selecting each of the 10 statements 
as most important are: 

14.9 Coolidge is perfectly fitted for the office of President of the U. S. 

22.0 Coolidge is the best man we could find for the office today. 

20. 3 Although Coolidge has been a very good President, he cannot be compared 

to our strongest Presidents. 

12.5 Coolidge is better than the men nominated by the other parties. 
18.5 Coolidge may be the right man, but he has not yet had sufficient chance 

to prove it. 
3.8 Coolidge is a little too conservative. 

1 Allport, F. H., and Hartman, D. A., "The Measurement and Motivation of 
Atypical Opinion in a Certain Group," Am. Pol Sci. Rev., 19: 735-760 (1925). 



4.6 Mediocre is the word that sums up Coolidge's qualifications for President. 

1.4 Coqjidge favors the financial interests too much. 

1 6 Cooiidge is controlled by a band of corrupt politicians. 

A man such as Cooiidge is bound to bring with him a corrupt government. 

Charted, the results appear as indicated: 

1 23456 789 10 

The steps are indicated along a base line, which has been developed 
from the decisions of the six judges as to the importance of the reasons. 
The vote of those taking the tests may then be figured in terms of per- 
centages of those checking each of the statements. These results are 
then allocated to the proper division on the base line. 

Certain advances in recording were scored by this test: (1) The state- 
ments were originally taken from students when students were to take 
the test. This eliminated positions suggested from outside the tested 
group. (2) A greater variety of possible positions was presented on each 
issue than in the simpler tests. (3) As a base line was developed from the 
decisions of the six judges and the results located on this line, we have 
actual measurement rather than merely counting. 

The principal limitations of this test were that: (1) the statements 
were not mutually exclusive; (2) the determination of the base line was 
based upon the judgments of a group quite dissimilar in attitudes from 
those taking the test; (3) the points on this base line were not equidistant 
from one another; that is, in quantitative terms one statement might 
be many times as important as another. Hence, it would occupy many 
times the space on the base line. Therefore, we may not be dealing with 
steps that are even approximately equal. We are provided with no way 
of determining their relative size. It was to these problems that Thurstone 
turned his attention. 


L. L. Thurstone emphasized that the ranking of opinions may show 
the relative importance of one or the other opinion in the group tested 
but that ranking does not measure, in that it does not show the quantita- 
tive relationship between the opinion types as measured on some scale. 
He, more than any other, has influenced opinion measurement since 1930 


and has provided a score or more of attitude scales that have been widely 
utilized. Thurstone extended the psychophysical techniques to the 
measurement of attitudes that Cattell had first used for social phenomena. 
The development and application of Thurstone's methods have been 
extensively described in a monograph on measurement of attitude toward 
the church, in which study he collaborated with E. J. Chave. From that 
source we shall briefly describe his procedures. 

Many individuals were asked to write their opinions about the church, 
and from these a list of statements was prepared. The list of 130 state- 
ments remained after the collection of statements had been edited, it 
having been kept in mind that: 

(1) The statements should be as brief as possible so as not to fatigue the 
subjects who are asked to read the whole list; (2) The statements should be such 
that they can be indorsed or rejected in accordance with their agreement or 
disagreement with the attitude of the reader. Some statements in a random 
sample will be so phrased that the reader can express no definite indorsement or 
rejection of them; (3) Every statement should be such that acceptance or rejec- 
tion of the statement does indicate something regarding the reader's attitude 
about the issue in question; (4) Double-barreled statements should be avoided 
except possibly as examples of neutrality when better neutral statements do not 
seem to be readily available. Double-barreled statements tend to have a high 
ambiguity; (5) One must insure that at jeast a fair majority of the statements 
really belong on the attitude variable that is to be measured. If a small number 
of irrelevant statements should be either intentionally or unintentionally left in 
the series, they will be automatically eliminated by an objective criterion, but the 
criterion will not be successful unless the majority of the statements are clearly 
a part of the stipulated variable. 1 

The collection of the materials of the test from opinions expressed by 
individuals of the same or a similar group satisfies the objection that we 
raised regarding the projection of attitudes of the experimenters upon 
those tested. The language difficulty still remains, as indeed it does to 
some extent in all tests, but the statements have been carefully culled to 
remove those containing words that would be likely to be misunderstood. 

The next step was the sorting procedure, in which a group of judges 
were asked to sort into eleven piles the 130 statements, which had been 
mimeographed. At one end were to be placed those statements favoring 
the church, at the other those opposed, and in pile 6 the neutral state- 
ments. In the intervening spaces were to be placed those statements 
which the judges decided were less and less or more and more favorable to 
the church. The objective here was to develop a scale from the judg- 
ments of those who were to take the test or were similar in background 

1 Thurstone, L. L., and Chave, E. J., The Measurement of Attitude, 1929. Quoted 
by permission of University of Chicago Press. 



and opinion statements to those who would take it* It was thought thus 
to eliminate the artificial scales developed when those of different back- 
ground dp the judging, as in the Allport-Hartman test. Many judges 
supplant few judges (there were 300 in this test) ; judges of similar opinions 
supplant possibly alien judges. The results were then counted and 
worked out in a table of percentages in accumulative proportions. 





















































































We now have a table (the above is a sample of 6 statements out of 
the 130) in which the cumulative percentages of the judges' decisions on 
each of the 130 statements appear. That is, statement 39 was placed in 
classification A (most favorable to church) by 16 per cent of the judges, in 
classification B by 41 per cent, etc., but in this table the percentages are 
accumulative, that is, each classification includes all the preceding ones. 

The next problem is the determination of the scale value (based upon 
the judges' decisions) of each statement. These scale values were deter- 
mined graphically for each statement. The graphs are plotted from the 
accumulative proportions as shown in the above table. For example, 
statement 39 reads, "I believe the church is absolutely needed to over- 
come the tendency to individualism and selfishness. It practices the 
golden rule fairly well." In the judges' sorting, 16 per cent considered this 
statement as expressing highest appreciation of the value of the church ; 
57 per cent considered that it was either highest or next highest; etc. 
In Fig. 10 we have a graph showing the cumulative percentages. 

On this graph the curve crosses the 50 per cent level at 1.8, and this 
is assigned as the scale value of this statement. Half of the judges 
classified this statement as more favorable toward the church than 1.8, 
half as less favorable. 

The objective is to obtain a basis for selection of statements about 
which the judges have been in greatest agreement and of statements 
which are evenly distributed along a scale from to 11, thus providing a 
test that covers the gamut of expressions of opinion from most to least 
favorable toward the church. The graphs for all the 130 statements will 
show curves of many shapes. In the case of statement 39, the quartile 
points for the curve are located at scale values 1.3 and 2.6 respectively. 
Thurstone labels the distance between these two points 1.3, the Q value, 



or the measure of ambiguity of the statement. If the Q value is low, there 
is a high degree of agreement among the judges; if the Q value is high, the 
statement is very ambiguous, the different readers having scattered their 
judgments. Such statements would be discarded. 1 

Ambiguous and irrelevant statements are discarded. Those remain- 
ing of the 130 statements are distributed at their scale-value points along 
the scale from to 11. The selection of the questions for the test is now 
made by deciding approximately how many statements are desired and 





Attitude scale 

5 6 7 8 9 10 11 
Statement No. 39 

S*\.8 0*1.3 

FIG. 10. Attitude scale graph. (From Thurstone, L. L., and Chave, E. J., The Measurement 
of Attitude, p. 37. Reproduced by permission of the University of Chicago Press.) 

then selecting statements that are distributed by more or less uniform 
intervals along the scale. That is, if 22 statements are to be used, select, 
in so far as possible, statements whose scale values are separated from one 
another by one-half a point on the scale. Such an ideal distribution will 
not be possible, but it is to be approximated. In the Thurstone-Chave 
scale, 45 statements were retained. 

The 45 statements are then shuffled and presented as a test, in which 
the subject is to check every statement that expresses his sentiment 
toward the church. For scoring the results the procedure is as follows: 
The scale value of each of the 45 statements is known. Add the scale 
values of each of the statements endorsed by the subject, and calculate 
their arithmetic mean. The result is the subject's position on the scale. 

1 Thurstone determines the reliability of the scale values, develops an objective 
criterion of ambiguity and of irrelevance. These procedures are described on pp. 
44-58 of the mouograph cited 


The authors felt justified in using this mean scale value of the opinions 
endorsed by the subject as his position on the scale, as there were approxi- 
mately thfe same number of opinions available for him to check in each 
class interval. The reliability of scoring thus was tested. If a group of 
100 subjects take such a test, the results will appear as 100 points on a 
scale line from to 11. In conclusion, it may be noted that the selec- 
tion of eleven divisions in sorting and on the scale was an arbitrary choice. 
This number might have been smaller; it probably could not profitably 
have been larger. The sorting judges would have been confused. How- 
ever, this is a matter for experimental determination in each test. 

The basic problem in this, as in the other tests, is whether attitudes, as 
expressed in opinions, are units that may profitably be handled quanti- 
tatively. Aside from this, there are certain technical objections to the 
construction of the tests; the source of materials; the range of those mate- 
rials ; the determination of a scale. The Thurstone test largely overcomes 
these problems. However, certain criticisms have been made. (1) 
The tendency of the judges to place a statement more frequently in the 
end piles than in the intermediate piles has been called the "end effect/ 1 
This end effect tends to shorten the distances between the end statements 
and the adjacent statements so that in the final scale values the middle 
statements are further apart than the end statements, although the quan- 
titative scale values may indicate an even distribution. It has been 
suggested that the division of all the statements into those "for" and 
"against" and then further sorting of each category would eliminate this 
skewing. 1 (2) Whether or not a scale developed by using one group of 
judges is applicable to quite different groups of subjects has been ques- 
tioned. To what extent will the judges' attitudes affect the scale? 2 
Some differences were found in calculating three independent sets of scale 
values for certain statements of opinion about the Negro: the first by 
Southern white subjects, the second by Northern subjects prejudiced in 
favor of the Negro, and the third by Negroes. 3 Although Thurstone and 
his students maintain that this factor is of little importance, it remains to 
be investigated. (3) The time and labor involved in the construction of a 
Thurstone scale has been discouraging to many. The sorting procedure 
is especially laborious and time-consuming, so that none but selected 
judges has been effectively used. Instead of the sorting procedure, a 
method of rating on an eleven- or nine-point scale, printed in the left- 
hand margin of a mimeographed list of opinions, has been suggested. It 

1 Droba, D. D., " Methods for Measuring Attitudes," Psychol Bull, 29: 309-323. 

Katz, D., and Allport, F. H., Students' Attitudes, p. 366, 1931. 
1 Rice, S., Statistics in the Social Studies, Chap. 11 and commentary, 1930. 
1 Hinkley, E. D., "The Influence of Individual Opinion on Construction of an 
Attitude Scale," Jour. Soc. Psychol, 3: 284-292. 


is maintained that a saving of over 50 per cent in time is achieved. 1 (4) 
We have noted the superiority of the Bogardus test to some of the other 
simple nonscaled tests because Bogardus used concrete situations rather 
than abstract formulations. Katz and Allport have suggested the devel- 
opment of a scale, using the Thurstone techniques, on which the scale 
continuum is one of behavior other than opinion. 2 This brings us to the 
problem of opinion versus other forms of behavior as an accurate index of 


Expressions of opinion, no matter how recorded, have frequently 
been objected to as indexes of attitude. It is urged that forms of behavior 
other than opinion will more reliably reveal attitudes. Considerable 
controversy has ensued from this division of opinion on verbalizations 
versus other forms of behavior as indicators of attitude. Like so many 
such controversies, it has arisen in part from a willful misinterpretation of 
the opponents' viewpoints and terms. Even the most enthusiastic 
investigator does not assume that all attitudes are amenable to measure- 
ment by language tests. That conventional answers, rather than opinion 
expressions of all attitudes involved, will usually be given to questions 
dealing with sex relations, miscegenation, religion or any other issue 
on which there have been strict mores is quite clear. The subject's 
rationalization, rather than conscious deception of the investigator, 
will usually be indicated. So basic is this tendency to give the conven- 
tional answer that even anonymity may not modify the subject's response. 
Most investigators have assumed that the individual's hidden attitude, 
rather than the conventional response given in such situations, is the real 
attitude. If by "real" is meant that which is more likely to result in 
action, it by no means follows that the individual's hidden attitude is more 
real than the conventional response. Although usually more willing to 
disclose the conventional attitude and thus avoid antagonistic responses, 
the individual may also be much more willing to act in accordance with 
that conventional attitude. Thus action as well as opinion is a fallible 
indication of all the attitudes involved in a situation. As Thurstone has 
maintained : 

There comes to mind the uncertainty of using an opinion as an index of 
attitude. The man may be a liar. If he is not intentionally misrepresenting his 
real attitude on a disputed question, he may nevertheless modify the expression 

1 Seashore, R., and Hevner, K., "A Time-saving Device for the Construction of 
Attitude Scales," Jour. Soc. Psychol, 3: 366-374. See also Likert, R., Roslow, S., 
and Murphy, G., "A Simple and Reliable Method of Scoring the Thurstone Attitude 
Scales," Jour. Soc. PtychoL, 5: 228-238. 

1 Katz and Allport, op. cit., pp. 368-371. 


of it for reasons of courtesy, especially in those situations in which frank expres- 
sion of attitude may not be well received. This has led to the suggestion that a 
man's action is a safer index of his attitude than what he says. But his actions 
may also be distortions of his attitude. A politician extends friendship and 
hospitality in overt action while hiding an attitude that he expresses more truth- 
fully to an intimate friend. Neither his opinions nor his overt acts constitute 
in any sense an infallible guide to the subjective inclinations and preferences that 
constitute his attitude. Therefore we must remain content to use opinions or 
other forms of action merely as indices of attitude. It must be recognized that 
there is a discrepancy, some error of measurement, as it were, between the opinion 
or overt action that we use as an index and the attitude that we infer from such 
an index. 1 

In everyday life the individual's expressions of opinion are considered 
a significant part of his behavior. We use these as well as other types of 
behavior as indications of his attitudes. They are; although we may 
misinterpret the attitudes involved or have an incomplete understanding 
of them. When expressions of opinion are made the subject of organized 
analysis in opinion testing, they remain significant indicators. And this 
would be admitted by those who favor stressing other forms of behavior 
in a research program on attitudes, although in the controversial process 
they sometimes incautiously write as if verbalizations were of little 
significance. For example, in discussing racial attitudes, La Piere writes: 

For the conventional method of measuring social attitudes is to ask questions 
(usually in writing) which demand a verbal adjustment to an entirely symbolic 
situation. Because it is easy, cheap, and mechanical, the attitudinal question- 
naire is rapidly becoming a major method of sociological and socio-psychological 
investigation. The technique is simple. Thus from a hundred or a thousand 
responses to the question "Would you get up to give an Armenian woman your 
seat in a street-car? " the investigator derives the " attitude" of non- Armenian 
males toward Armenian females. Now the question may be constructed with 
elaborate skill and hidden with consummate cunning in a maze of supplementary 
or even irrelevant questions, yet all that has been obtained is a symbolic response 
to a symbolic situation. The words "Armenian woman " do not constitute an 
Armenian woman of flesh and blood who might be tall or squat, fat or thin, 
old or young, well or poorly dressed who might, in fact, be a goddess or just 
another old and dirty hag. And "yes" or "no" is but a verbal reaction, and 
this does not involve rising from the seat or stolidly avoiding the hurt eyes of the 
hypothetical woman and the derogatory stares of other street-car occupants. 2 

While one may have sympathy for indignation at the absurd over- 
simplification of the early attitude testers, it must be evident that in the 

1 Thurstone and Chave, op. cit., p. 7. Quoted by permission of University of 
Chicago Press. 

La Piere, R. T., "Attitudes vs. Actions," Soe. Forces, 13: 230-237. Permissioo 
to quote granted. 


later and more complex tests such a question would not be asked or, if it 
were, it would not stand as an isolated response on which generalizations 
about Armenian females and American males would be developed. On 
the other hand, the behavior response to the particular, let us say beauti- 
ful, Armenian woman on the streetcar is not a record of attitudes toward 
Armenians. The subject may not know that she is Armenian, may 
grant her as an exception, and the like. His stereotype of " Armenian" 
may not be modified by such an encounter. The problem is that of the 
extent to which various attitudes are involved in different types of situa- 
tions. In the attitude complex of the individual about race relations and 
in his attitude complex about Armenians, there are attitudes that would 
motivate one kind of action in the case of the beautiful young Armenian 
woman and others that would be at the basis of action on a political 
decision, and the like. It would be quite as erroneous to base generaliza- 
tions about attitudes toward Armenians upon such an action incident as it 
would be to assume that a test described all attitudes which could be 
involved in American-Armenian relations. 

Whenever possible, comparison and correlation of action and opinion 
as indicating attitudes are clearly desirable. Unfortunately, social 
psychology has not, as yet, provided any large number of formal studies 
that attempt to show this relation. Several years ago F. M. Vreeland 
npted the geographic distribution of the Birth Control Review as indicating 
the areas in which attitudes most favorable to birth control were to be 
found. 1 R. R. Willowby studied the distribution of the Nation as 
significant in the spread of liberalism, and there have been a few other 
fragmentary studies of various media of communication. However, such 
results are of little value unless compared with other indicators; the 
attitudes involved in subscription to any periodical may be quite varied. 
P. A. Sorokin asked several sociology classes to (1) buy materials for 
departmental use, (2) help three brilliant but needy students, (3) help 
Chinese and Russian students. The statement as to what contributions 
would be given showed that, in numbers contributing and in amounts 
given, the students would aid their own work first and Russian students 
last, although on an attitudes test they subscribed to the statement that 
we should be equally ready to help all. 2 In such a situation the students 
subscribed to the conventional phrase and gave money on another basis, 
but the conventional response is a socially significant type of behavior 
also. There has been some attempt to relate voting behavior to attitudes 
in studies by S. A. Rice, C. E. Merriam, H. F. Gosneil, G. Lundberg, 

1 Vreeland, F. M., The Proce$t of Reform with Special Reference to Reform Groups 
in the Field of Population, thesis, University of Michigan, 1929. 

1 Discussed by Murphy, G., and Murphy, L. B., Experimental Social 
p. 625. 


C. E. Robinson and many others. In the obviously significant but difficult 
problem of research on opinion versus action as indicators of attitudes 
there have been few helpful contributions. Adequate methodology has 
not emerged. 


Any number of people interacting in any kind of social relations, out 
of which grow common interests, constitute a social group. In even the 
simplest societies, groups are very numerous; in contemporary complex 
societies they are of almost infinite number and variety. The growth of 
communication has made possible the rapid increase in variety of 
association. Groups involve the interests and attitudes of their indi- 
vidual members in widely varying degrees,, from the myriads of attitudes 
that are acquired from and used in the primary group of the family or the 
school play group, to the relatively few attitudes associated with member- 
ship in the Philatelists of America. Various-sized segments of the indi- 
vidual's behavior and also of his attitudes are not only determined by but 
are involved in these various group memberships. Moreover, as the 
number and variety of the individual's group memberships increase, the 
attitudes associated with different groups are more likely to be in conflict 
or in partial disharmony with one another. This is necessarily so; for, if 
the values of the social order are not consistent, the individual's attitudes 
which reflect them must be inconsistent. Although we are not ordinarily 
aware of these disharmonies, having accepted without question the pre- 
vailing viewpoints of our various group associations, intermittently the 
conflicts of attitudes receive conscious consideration. The individual 
attempts to deal with these inconsistencies and then to verbalize his 
conclusions. Without overemphasizing the rational and logical processes 
or the demand for consistency of the average person, it is evident that 
individual opinion process is frequently stimulated by the diversity of 
attitudes thus acquired. Moreover, new groups and alignments result at 
times from the awareness of these inconsistencies by a number of group 
members. Thus the multiplication of groups, this proliferating tendency 
toward new associations, is in part dependent upon the inconsistencies of 
the values engendered in the already existing groups. For example, a 
new alliance for the farmer results from the failure of the Republican 
party, the Methodist church, his fraternal orders, and many other groups 
of which he is a member, to satisfy attitudes toward consumption that 
the farmer has developed from contacts with salesmen, advertising media, 
and the like. New attitudes in the individual and new group values, 
expressed in aims, programs, promises, and the like, develop. 

In neither the new nor the old groups, however, is the opinion process 
a mere summation of individual judgments, nor is it a mean or an average 


of those individual opinions. It is an interactive process in which many 
factors are involved. The results are something that would not have 
been individually achieved. In this sense we have a group or public 
opinion. The groups range in size from a few persons, who discuss in 
order to achieve some common statement of position, to the largest 
number that can possibly be involved by the use of all the modern media 
of communication. They do not become a group in so far as opinion is 
concerned until interaction has occurred. Imagine a hundred people 
met together to discuss the Townsend Plan. The individual members 
already have attitudes which they are willing to express as opinions. A 
Thurstone test scaled from 1 to 10 would show a distribution of indi- 
viduals all the way from " favorable" to "unfavorable." You now 
know the position of the individual members. Could it be predicted 
that the group opinion will be the sum, the mean, the average, or, indeed, 
any mathematical formula applied to those individual scores? Quite 
obviously, if the scores were all you knew about the hundred people, you 
would prove a sorry prophet. In the process of interaction hundreds of 
attitudes will be involved; those related to the present economic position 
of the individuals of the group, past attitudes toward the speakers and 
those involved in discussion, personality interaction, the skillful or 
unskillful manipulation of symbols, emotional response to particular 
words, various attitudes among individuals in their wishes for security, 
order of presentation and many others. Test again. The distribution 
of individuals may be almost the same or may have swung markedly to 
one or the other end of the scale. This transient experience may have 
produced little or very marked results, which may be quite different a 
few hours or a few days hence. Like the attitudes developed in a religious 
revival they may often be quite evanescent. But suppose this same 
group met fifty times. By the twentieth meeting a certain stability of 
scores and positions would be achieved and rather consistently main- 
tained. This would be no casual popular impression but a relatively 
stable statement of position, consistently maintained until new factors 
are introduced. The entire process and the results are the group opinion 
or public opinion. In this case, to be sure, a much more formal process 
of interaction has occurred than is possible in large secondary-contact 
publics as the people of New York, the readers of the Chicago Tribune, a 
self-conscious proletariat or the Indian untouchables. But interaction 
is characteristic of groups or publics. The measurement of group opinion 
is therefore the record of opinions of individuals who have been selected 
on the basis of membership in that group or public within which inter- 
action on that subject has occurred. There is no mystical group opinion 
or group mind, but simply the attitudes of individuals developed from 
association therein. The individual opinions resulting therefrom may 



then be separated into majorities and minorities, blocs, clusters or any 
other form of classification. 

But will the results approximate an average of the individual posi- 
tions? C. H. Cooley concludes that: 

The average theory applied to public consciousness is wholly out of place. 
The public mind may be on a lower plane than that of individual thinking in 
separation, or it may be higher, but it is almost sure to be on a different plane; 
and no inkling of its probable character can be had by taking a mean. ... A 
little common sense and observation will show that the expression of a group is 
nearly always superior, for the purpose in hand, to the average capacity of its 
members. . . . There is a widespread, but as I believe a fallacious idea that the 
public thought or action must in some way express the working of the average or 
commonplace mind, must be some kind of mean between the higher and lower 
intelligences making up the group. It would be more correct to say that it is 
representative, meaning by this that the preponderant feeling of the group seeks 
definite and effectual expression through individuals competent to give it such 
expression. 1 

As applied to large publics these conclusions are fundamentally a 
matter of faith. Prof. Cooley 's scale on which he was locating the 
average was a rational or an ethical scale. Whether the preponderant 
result will be above or below the median or the average will vary with 
the size of the group, its composition, the subject under discussion and 
many factors that could only be known by a complete history of the 
controversy under consideration in that group. 

Discussion of the group and social mind, of communal spirit, folk 
soul, and the like, has been extensive in recent political and social theory. 
Sometimes it has become perfervid controversy between psychologists 
and sociologists. Often the conflict has been based primarily upon 
misinterpretation of terms, but it has likewise developed, in its present 
form, because of the divergent frames of reference of the individual 
psychologist and the cultural sociologist. However, man has long 
reflected profoundly on the nature of interaction in social groups. When- 
ever man has developed an organized social theory, this problem has 
arisen. It appears in Aristotle ? s Politics, in Plato 's Republic and in the 
legal ideologies of the Romans, but the modern controversy had its 
inception in the revolt against the excessively individual and rational 
political philosophies of the eighteenth century. The problem of indi- 
vidual and public opinion is part of this larger conceptual framework. 

From the foregoing discussion it should be evident that we consider 
opinion as an individual expression. It is a group or public opinion 
when it has been affected by interaction in a group situation. The 

1 Cooley, C. H., Social Organization, p. 124, 1909. Quoted by permission of 
Charles Scribner's Sons. 


individual's opinion has been modified by (1) those cultural elements 
affecting the issue which are unique to that group and (2) his experiences 
with interaction within that group and the development of consensus. 
The group and interaction of members within it are social reality; 
attitude and opinion are individual phenomena. These individual 
opinions are recorded and measured. Group-opinion phenomena are 
inferred from changes in individual opinions as shown by successive 
measurements as well as directly observed from the record of the group 
in action. 

The interest in and expenditure of effort on the problem of attitude 
measurement are evidenced by the variety of methods that we have 
surveyed in the preceding discussion. But vigor of attack does not 
always assure solution of the problem. Can attitudes be measured? 
If not, how are they to be recorded? The social scientist must deal with 
them in some fashion. They are essential entities to which the sciences 
of social forms and processes must relate their materials. Certainly the 
student of public opinion must assume attitudes in the individual as 
motivating expressions of opinion. An attitude as general "tendency 
to act" is obviously a complex phenomenon that may be infinitely 
variant in individuals. It is evident, therefore, that the social psychol- 
ogist as well as the psychologist must be cognizant of individual differ- 
ences. However, many types of attitude are not so variant. There are 
common social attitudes, a very great number of them. They are 
acquired from common sources in similar fashion, and they motivate 
common types of behavior. It is with these that we are primarily con- 
cerned in the study of public opinion. Mr. Jones may have an attitude 
of dislike for and vote against a political candidate some of whose man- 
nerisms he finds distasteful. Because of Mr. Jones's unique composition 
of attitudes on this point he is motivated to behave in a manner socially 
significant, that is, to vote against the candidate. Obviously, however, 
there can be no attempt to measure Mr. Jones' aversion if it is a unique 
phenomenon. Nor are the social studies preoccupied with such individual 
attitudes and behavior. Eighty-five per cent of those voting in the same 
election vote against that candidate. They do so for many reasons. 
Noting what a sample of these voters state as their principal reasons, you 
may classify these and count the numbers of those who state one reason 
or the other for voting against the candidate. There is a scattered 5 per 
cent with divergent reasons, but the remaining 80 per cent of the total 
voters defeat the candidate because of party affiliations, his stand on 
prohibition and the recent scandal in which his supposed seduction of his 
secretary's sister was made public. We are now dealing, not with unique 
phenomena, but at least with statements of opinion common to sizabl? 


groups. We still have Mr. Jones with us, however, for he told th<* investi- 
gator that he voted against the candidate because of the prohibition issue. 
Actually, Jones, a fastidious man, has for many years found the candidate 
distasteful because of his mannerism of flopping a drooping, half-chewed 
cigar from side to side of his mouth, because of his gold tooth and his 
habit of meditatively scratching the back of his head. Jones may 
rationalize or, conscious of his real reasons, may simply choose a more 
politically acceptable reason to disclose to the investigator. For the 
moment, he is listed with those who voted on the basis of the prohibition 
issue; perhaps he will be eliminated from this group later. 

It is very clear that the attitude of opposition and hostility to the 
candidate is a complex phenomenon incapable of being adequately 
described by any simple numerical index or, indeed, by any other simple 
statement. There appear to be at least three common social attitudes 
involved here as determining factors in this voting behavior. Perhaps 
an attitude scale on party affiliation, one on prohibition and one on 
seduction will provide additional knowledge as to the distribution of 
attitudes of the voters, at least within the limitations of the validity of 
scales, which we have already discussed. In the process of testing Mr. 
Jones, we discarded him from the category of those opposiiig the candidate 
on the prohibition issue, because of the quality of his answers. His 
rationalization might very well have been convincing, however, where- 
upon he would have remained thus classified. Our procedure, then, 
would not have been adequate to disclose all the attitudes involved in this 
situation. This is a shortcoming common in varying degrees to all 
behavior records of subjective states. 

We have, then, isolated the few common social attitudes involved in 
this situation, have indicated their range and have noted the position of 
a large number of the voters on these scales. We have limited ourselves 
to the common social attitudes and those on which methods existed for 
a quantitative record. Preferable at some points as the statistical record 
may be, we must remember that we have by no means adequately or 
completely described the attitudes involved in this situation. Espe- 
cially must this be recalled because testing engenders an illusory sense of 
completeness. The desire to proceed quantitatively sometimes leads 
to a formulation of concepts and problems thus incomplete, but with the 
illusion of completeness. 

What other procedures may be used to disclose attitudes? Intro- 
spective accounts and the use of forms of behavior other than verbal may 
be used in addition to or in place of tests. The introspective account, 
subject as all self-revelation is to rationalization, autistic thinking and 
other deviations from the real motivations, usually achieves even par- 
tially adequate exposition only in the reports of trained subjects. "It is 
difficult to see how a technique which involves the indication of one's 


position on an attitude scale is scientifically more satisfactory than a 
technique which involves the reporting of highly trained subjects of 
their attitudes which appear in consciousness under conditions of careful 
experimental control." 1 Certainly these introspective techniques are 
desirable if they are reported by trained subjects and presented in such 
a fashion that they may be quantified if the attitudes are assumed to 
be common. Significant insights have been gained in this fashion. We 
need not choose one or the other method; they may be made supple- 
mentary. Our record of attitude, acquired by means of tests, lacks depth. 
It does not provide insights into typical ways in which such attitudes 
were developed. From introspective accounts and from case studies 
these processes may be learned. " It is certain, at least, that every man's 
opinion becomes more intelligible if we know the particular circumstances 
under which it is was conceived; particularly if we know also the circum- 
stances that have reaffirmed and intensified it. It is for this reason that, 
in studying opinions, we seek to go back to the point of genesis, seek to 
define the concrete circumstances under which opinions took form, 
and the motives which inspired them/' 2 For the observer to enter 
imaginatively into the experiences of the subject, so that he may come 
to understand the inception and development of certain attitudes, he 
must be provided with these longer accounts of experience, and not only 
of the objective experience, but also of the mental processes of his sub- 
jects. He cannot dodge the mental and emotional processes; and for 
understanding these the introspective accounts of typical subjectives 
are invaluable. Their typicality can only be determined by gathering an 
adequate sample. Moreover, all forms of behavior indicative of attitude 
should be used, when possible, for supplementary and comparative pur- 
poses. These methods can be correlated for the development of as full 
a record as possible. 8 

Finally, there has been no orderly approach, even with such methods 
as are available, to the recording of opinion phenomena in various groups. 
The subject matter of those studies which have been made has been 
determined either by what appeared as most profitable to an investigator 
interested primarily in method or by the interests of the investigator, his 
special problems, who was subsidizing him, and the like. Preoccupation 
with method has largely precluded formal classifications, in the literature 
of social psychology, of the groups and publics in which attitudes are 
outstandingly affected. The approach thus far has been primarily 
individual and psychological rather than sociological. 

1 Fearing, F., "Relationship among Controlled Factors," in Methods in Social 
Science (Rice, S. A., ed.), p. 727, 1931. 

* Park, R. K., "Experience and Race Relations," Am. Jour. Social., 9: 20. 

8 See Murphy, G., Murphy, L. B., and Newcoinb, T. M., Experimental Social 
Pnyehology, Chap. 13, 1937. 


Individuals express opinion about controversial issues. In relatively 
static societies the number of such issues at any time is small; elsewhere 
the scope of the controversial widens. Change in any aspect of culture 
involves the opinion process in groups. Many issues involve large groups. 
In a sense, therefore, all culture change is a record of opinion change. 
Anything may become controversial, and, considering all human cultures, 
almost everything has at some time been the subject of conflict. In the 
simpler societies, at those periods which are highly static, any innovation 
is attended by vigorous disagreement. Changing forms evidence the 
momentarily victorious position. For example, simple art forms are 
dependent upon the structure of the human organism which permits of 
almost infinite variety, upon the qualities of the materials and upon the 
tribal patterns. Although changes may occur but intermittently, 
individuals do become innovators and for various reasons change the 
patterns. The earliest known drawings are those sketches of other species 
which appear on the walls of caves of what is now southern France. 
When innovations appeared in the methods of portraying these various 
animals, one can imagine the indignation of a tribal elder, ruefully viewing 
this sacrilege to his magical beliefs about the potency of an arrow placed 
here or there on the drawing and the animated discussion that ensued. 

There are certain basic processes developed out of the common human 
experience of the simpler primary groups that are less often questioned, 
but even these are controversial in some groups. There is also the residue 
of that which at any given time is not controversial. Especially in 
mathematics and the physical sciences there are certain materials, much 
fewer than is popularly supposed, which may be verified and established 
to the satisfaction of the expert group. This is scientific fact, and it is 
cumulative, serving as the basis for new developments. Yet all these 
fields have changed at times with amazing speed, so that, as a seventeenth- 
century man of learning said, "what was conjuring in the last age is 
Mathematiques in this/' Opinion thereon is formed in the expert group. 
Popular opinion enters more immediately and more often into the state- 
ment of positions on the subject matter of the social studies. Large 
publics are always involved in some type of controversy in religion, 
economics and politics. The experts are less often in agreement, and 



their lack of agreement is more generally exposed. Because their prop- 
ositions are less irrefutably proved, they more persistently turn to 
popular support for some hypothesis or cause. It is in the field of the 
social studies, therefore, that there has been the greatest eagerness to 
devise methods of discovering what opinions are held by the members of 
large publics. When large numbers of issues are popularly controversial, 
the need for such techniques for taking a record is more apparent. This, 
in large measure, accounts for the present preoccupation of psychology 
and the social sciences with the methods of opinion study. 

It is evident that the purpose of opinion measurement is prediction and 
control. But even the most sophisticated of the present methods of 
measurement merely breaks down the statements of general position 
into a scale of statements running the gamut of possible positions in that 
group. But this is not adequate for prophecy, for the resulting state- 
ments to which an individual may accede may still be based upon quite 
variable attitudes. It is apparent, therefore, that whatever merit these 
tests possess exists in their usefulness as instruments for discovering what 
lies behind the statements of opinion. This may best be done by attempt- 
ing to use them to chart opinion change. Thus, it may be possible to 
infer the process. Difficulties are at once apparent. A Thurstone test, 
for example, if given at intervals may not in each case cover the entire 
range of what opinions have then become in the group. If new tests are 
given each time, the results are then not comparable. Further, language 
changes may have occurred in the meantime so that certain words of the 
test have changed meaning somewhat. For example, in testing opinions 
about the present Democratic administration some statement on " boon- 
doggling" might be included. This term has had somewhat varied 
connotations during the past two years, however, and the responses would 
vary with th^ time of testing. By careful construction and continued 
analysis of test content, these shortcomings may be in part overcome, and 
the tests may be useful tools for recording opinion change. But it must 
be recognized that they are but relatively accurate instruments for making 
observations about opinion change and the attitudes upon which it is 

There are several ways by which changes in opinion may be studied : 
(1) Observers may present generalizations about the process, based upon 
their experiences, upon participant observation or upon a nonquantitative 
examination of records, newspapers, documents, and the like. (2) Tests 
may be given at time intervals and quantitatively treated. (3) Tests 
may be given with partly controlled stimuli, such as a speech, movie or 
other item, intervening. (4) Quantitative studies of opinions other than 
those expressed in tests may be made, such as studies of voting records, 
changing content pf varipus media pf qonmaunication, buying habits and 


other behavior records. Without making any attempt to provide a 
critical summary of the literature, we may illustrate these procedures. 
Cataloguing of authors and titles of studies will be found in the reference 
list. The mere listing of bibliographical material at this point would be 
of no service to the reader. 


In those sections of political and social philosophy in which the opinion 
processes of large publics are considered, thinkers have long pondered 
over the problem of opinion change. Numerous generalizations may be 
found in the writings from Plato to the latest treatise on political science. 
Let us sample a few, taken at random. 

There are certain generalizations, based upon common experience 
and similar observations, which are repeated time and again. Robert 
Owens' famous tactic " Never argue, repeat your assertion " has been 
otherwise expressed many times. Recognition of the force of repetition 
existed among political leaders, tacticians and philosophers long before 
the advertiser, under the tutelage of the psychologist, made himself 
almost insufferable to the sensitive. 

Another long recognized procedure for bringing about a change of 
popular opinion is the so-called " red-herring technique/' the diversion 
of public attention from one subject to another. In this connection Lecky 
remarked that " people do not disprove miracles, they outgrow them/' 
In large publics, few opinions are changed by being disproved. Much 
more often, attention is simply diverted to something else. The effective- 
ness of positive statements in contrast to indirect or indecisive statements 
is likewise a generalization learned from experience and frequently stated. 
The effective political leader of large publics has a program, not a policy 
of negation. Change in opinion is brought about by specific positive 
appeals. Two hundred dollars a month to everyone above a certain age, 
share our wealth with ten thousand dollars capital for every man, woman 
and child such proposals are specific enough. The demagogue knows 
this. The positive religious program has a permanent popular advantage 
over agnosticism. The positive statement is appealing. William James 
once referred to Wilhelm Wundt as a perfect professor, because he had an 
opinion on every subject and, having an excellent memory, he seldom 
forgot what his opinions were. Recognition of this principle will be found 
scattered throughout the literature of group processes. These positive 
statements, moreover, should more often be hope-bringing and optimistic 
rather than pessimistic appeals, if they are effectively to modify mass 
opinion. Sorel said that there was a popular aversion to every pessimistic 
idea. This is usually held to be true, except for short-time periods in 
crises. Or we may consider generalizations such as those of the economic 


detenninists of the nineteenth century. They maintained that shifts in 
opinion were brought about, primarily, by modifications of the economic 
order, not by ideas. The politician who, following a sweeping defeat, said 
that " we couldn't expect to beat fifteen million unemployed " was momen- 
tarily of this school of thought. These and many other generalizations 
have been repeated so often that they are the principles assumed in most 
discussions of the process of opinion change. 

Changes of opinion, according to Plato, are forced when they occur 
under the violence of some pain or grief. "The enchanted are those who 
change their minds either under the softer influence of pleasure or the 
sterner influence of fear." Cooley notes, " A group makes up its mind in 
very much the same manner that the individual makes up his. The 
latter must give time and attention to the question, search his conscious- 
ness for pertinent ideas and sentiments, and work them together into a 
whole, before he knows what his real thought about it is. In the case of a 
nation the same thing must take place, only on a larger scale." Such a 
description of popular opinion process is based upon a faith in the rational- 
ity of the process and the ultimate triumph of logic. That the shifts in 
opinion are based upon sound judgment was also stated by Locke who, 
disparaging the demagogue, wrote, "Nor let anyone say that mischief 
can arise from hence as often as it shall please a busy head or turbulent 
spirit to desire the alteration of government. It is true, such men may 
stir whenever they please, but it will be only to their own just ruin and 
perdition." Distinguishing between two types of subjects on which 
opinions may be changed, some by reasonable arguments, others by 
emotional appeals, E. A. Ross notes, "In areas where, after all, feeling 
or instinct, not reason decides, discussion can do little to accelerate the 
issue." Alexis de Tocqueville, commenting on changing public opinion 
in a democracy, notes an increase in the depreciation of the elite in propor- 
tion to the decrease in class differences, saying, "The hatred which men 
bear to privilege increases in proportion as privileges become fewer and 
less considerable, so that democratic passions would seem to burn most 
fiercely just when they have least fuel." The principal processes of 
opinion change, according to A. L. Lowell, are that "opinions change 
by making exceptions to general rules until the rule itself is broken down" 
and "opinions have this in common with intrenchments that they offer 
an obstinate resistance to a frontal attack, but not to a turning move- 
ment." Lord Bryce concluded that opinion changes were instigated in 
America by a limited group, principally politicians, a "set of men, who 
are to be counted by hundreds rather than by thousands; it is the chiefs 
of great parties who have the main share in starting opinion, the jour- 
nalists in propagating it." In his Public Opinion and Lord Beaconsfield 
G. C. Thompson summarizes the changes in public opinion during a 


generation in England. One illustration of rapidly changing popular 
opinion occurred during the Turkish war when atrocity stories were cir- 
culated. Thompson thus describes the steps in the process: "At first 
there had been doubt, then astonishment, then a great emotion of pity 
and indignation, a desire that the persons who had suffered should be 
helped and the persons who had done wrong should be punished, then 
came the perception that things of this kind were not strange and unheard 
of exceptions, but only a capital example of the incidents of Turkish 
rule, and finally the conviction indelibly branded into the public mind 
that Turks were not fit to be trusted with sovereignty over Christian 
populations." We have here an instance of generalization based upon 
a specific situation. 

In the preceding quotations we have only fragments, snatched from 
the writings of these eminent commentators. Let us summarize one 
other source in which there is a more complete discussion of the bases for 
sudden changes in group opinion. 1 According to E. H. Paget, sudden 
opinion change in large publics occurs under the following conditions: 
(1) A group opinion that is neither founded on a thorough comprehension 
of the points at issue nor supported by strong associations with some 
enduring prejudice may easily disintegrate. (2) Many expressions of 
opinion are but empty formalism. Changes in opinion may seem to occur 
suddenly, but actually the attitudes behind the opinion have been chang- 
ing for a long time. (3) Group opinion may shift quickly because of 
unwise and overaggressive action of those who attempt to direct opinion. 
Leaders may become too confident of public backing and attempt to go 
too far. (4) There is a general willingness of members of large publics 
to respond positively (voting "yes") to propositions when they still 
retain doubts. Therefore, a majority may change very quickly. This 
has been experimentally verified. (5) As a rule, people oppose situations, 
not principles. Sudden shifts in opinion may occur if the situation is 
modified. (6) The introduction of a new personal force, vividly drama- 
tizing an issue, may bring about a sudden change in opinion. Facts, 
reasons and evidence have rarely gained a secure hold on the minds of 
most men. 

We have strung together this rather chaotic list of quotations, which 
could readily be amplified, in order to indicate something of the variety 
of comment on opinion change. Such wise and experienced thinkers as 
Bryce, de Tocqueville, Thompson, Lowell and many others, on the basis 
of their observations and logical analysis of the mass opinion process, have 
formulated many valid generalizations. It is questionable whether con- 
temporary social science can, at least for some time, improve upon the 
sympathetic insight of the political theorist and the social philosopher. 
1 Paget, E. H., " Sudden Changes in Group Opinion," Soc. Forces, 7: 438-442. 


However, a more exact science of social relations may provide certain 
information that they could not supply. For example, it might be very 
illuminating to analyze and note the frequency with which opinion 
changes are induced by the red-herring technique, by reiteration, diver- 
sion, positive assertions, and the like. Public information is canalized 
through well-known agencies. Examine their output. Assess, in terms 
of frequency of use, the devices that the publicity agents of the U.S. 
Department of Agriculture call into use between July 1 and Jan. 1. 
Surely a more exact science of society would provide information, not 
only on what the techniques were, but upon the frequency of their use 
by different agencies as well as exact descriptive accounts of the specific 


During the past few years there have been a number of attempts to 
record the effects of certain oral, printed and pictorial materials upon the 
opinions of those subjected to them. It has been demonstrated that 
shifts of opinion may occur after but very limited contact with spoken, 
written or pictorial stimuli. More and more detailed analysis of the 
process of changing attitudes is being attempted, although the experi- 
mental methods are necessarily very crude and the stimuli but partly 
controlled. From the limited body of experimental literature that has 
been produced in the past five years we may select a few items for brief 
discussion. Other references will be found in the selected reference list. 
Most of the studies thus far have used students as subjects since they 
were an available and a fairly homogeneous group. The shortcomings of 
many of the experimental techniques are fairly obvious and must be 
criticized, but at the same time the difficulties of this pioneering research 
should be well understood. Let us first consider studies of oral, then of 
written and then of pictorial, stimuli affecting opinion. 

W. H. Wilke conducted an interesting comparison of the relative 
effects of speech, radio and printed page, by giving speeches on war, on 
the distribution of wealth, on birth control and on the existence of God, 
to classes in New York University. 1 These speeches were transmitted 
by microphone to other classes and were given in printed form to a third 
group. There were 341 subjects in all. Opinion scales were given two 
weeks before and after the speech, radio or reading, dealing with the 
subjects discussed therein. These attitude tests were the rating-scale 
type containing five steps, of which position 3 was neutral, position 1 in 
agreement with the speaker and position 5 in greatest disagreement. Of 
all the neutral or undecided scores on the original test, that is, those 

1 Wilke, W. H., "An Experimental Comparison of the Speech, the Radio and the 
Printed Page as Propaganda Devices," Arch. Psychol, No. 169, 1934. 


checking position 3 on the scale, the greatest number were brought 
nearer to agreement with the special pleading by the speaker, the loud- 
speaker being next most effective and the printed material least effective. 
Attitudes that in the first test were opposed to the views expressed by 
the propaganda material were more likely to change to a position of 
agreement than to swing merely to a neutral position. Further, those 
who in the original test espoused the more extreme positions tended to 
retain these positions much more than any other group. The average 
of all changes on all topics brought about by the speaker was 9.5 per 
cent of the total possible changes; by the loud-speaker, 7.9 per cent; 
by the printed materials, 6.3 per cent. Thes3 differences, though not 
large, are significant. Obviously, such fragmentary data, collected from 
a limited number of subjects on a few topics by means of an inadequate 
testing method, do not provide a basis for generalization about the 
effectiveness of different stimuli. But this Is the type of study, with the 
stimuli at least partially controlled, which may in time provide an accre- 
tion of materials from which such generalizations may be adduced. 

W. K. Chen studied the influence of oral propaganda material on stu- 
dent attitudes. 1 An opinion test of forty-five statements selected from 
speeches, articles and interviews on the Manchurian problem was devel- 
oped and made up as a five-point rating scale. These statements favored 
both the Chinese and the Japanese viewpoints. They were presented 
to nine university classes in various schools from Stanford to Columbia, 
to be checked on the "absolutely true" (A.T.), " partly true" (P.T.) 
undecided (U), "partly false" (P.F.) and " absolutely false " (A.F.) scale. 
If a statement favoring the Chinese viewpoint is endorsed A.T. it is in 
position 1, and if A.F., in position 5, undecided being 3. The positions 
of the students before hearing propaganda material were recorded. Then 
two articles, one favoring the Chinese position and another the Japanese 
position, were developed, and a neutral article was taken from a publica- 
tion of the Foreign Policy Association. These were given to instructors 
of classes, who, after memorizing the arguments in them, gave talks to 
their classes on one or the other position. The students were tested once 
more a few days thereafter. Each group was found to shift its position 
in the direction toward which the particular propaganda, to which it had 
been subjected, impels. Apparently a few minutes of oral propaganda 
produces large and measurable results. In each case more than half of 
the members of the class shifted from the original undecided position to 
one of the others. When, instead of propaganda for the Chinese or 
Japanese positions, neutral material was presented, a tendency to reduce 
the originally more popular opinion was noted. The author further con- 

1 Chen, W. K., "The Influence of Oral Propaganda Material upon Students' 
Attitudes," Arch. PsychoL, No. 150, 1933. 


eludes that propaganda material does not need to cover a large number 
of issues to bring about a shift in general attitude. It does need to create 
a vivid general impression. And, moreover, the author suggests that 
information did not play a determining role in shaping attitudes toward 
the Manchurian problem. A definite attitude was possible in the absence 
of any specific information. Although the materials are too limited 
for such generalizations, the author has here posed some basic problems 
of opinion change. The stimuli were quite variable in this test and the 
conditions not carefully controlled (it was given during a period of wide- 
spread popular discussion of this problem so that the effectiveness of the 
single class speech could hardly be isolated). Among the greatest vari- 
ables are the personal characteristics of the speakers, including methods 
of presentation. These are not equated in this study. With all its 
limitations, this experiment nonetheless poses some basic questions on the 
effectiveness of speech forms in changing opinions. It is to be hoped 
that numerous studies in this field will soon appear. 

Of late years there have been increasingly exact methods for testing 
information acquired through reading materials on the social studies. 
The latest and most comprehensive review of achievements in this field 
has recently been published by the American Historical Society. 1 Tests 
of opinion change, however, have appeared only during the last decade, 
and as yet there are only a few of them. A. D. Annis and N. C. Meier 
studied the influence of editorial material on students at the University 
of Iowa. 2 Using the regular daily editions of the newspaper, they 
" planted" thirty editorials, fifteen of them favorable and fifteen unfavor- 
able to a Mr. Hughes, Prime Minister of Australia from 1915 to 1923. 
Previous to the tests they ascertained that none of their 203 subjects 
knew anything about Mr. Hughes. The editorials were from 150 to 
300 words in length and resembled the usual editorials in style. They 
purported to give information and opinions about Mr. Hughes who was 
supposed to be traveling on a lecture tour through the Middle West. 
One group read the editorials favoring Mr. Hughes, the other, those 
opposed to him. This reading was done during the regular psychology 
laboratory meetings, two a week, over a period of two months. The objec- 
tive was to attempt to record the influence upon opinion of such limited 
contacts with editorial writing about an individual. This problem of 
editorial influence has long been disputed in conferences on journalism and 
social psychology. Of course, this test varied from the usual conditions 
of editorial reading, as the moot point usually is whether the editorials 
are or are not read, whereas here the reading was assured. At the con- 

1 Kelley, T. L., and Krey, A. C., Tests and Measurements in the Social Sciences, 1934. 
f Annis, A. D., and Meier, N. C., "The Induction of Opinion through Suggestion 
by Means of Planted Content," Jour. Soc. PsychoL, 5: 65-81. 


elusion of the two-month period tests were given. Ninety-eight per cent 
of the subjects reading the favorable editorials became favorably biased 
toward Mr. Hughes, and 86 per cent of those reading the unfavorable 
editorials became adversely biased. Moreover, the attitude toward Mr. 
Hughes was recalled four months later when another test disclosed approxi- 
mately the same expressions of opinion as were made immediately after 
reading. Further, seven editorials were found to be as effective as fifteen 
in developing the opinions one way or the other. The authors conclude 
that by means of a very few editorials, presenting but little factual 
information and largely through indirect suggestion, it is possible to 
build up definite attitudes toward individuals. Limited though the 
materials of this study may be, the authors have made a definite con- 
tribution to method in using a medium to which the subject is 
accustomed, and modifying but one section of it. The conditions are 
thus more nearly normal. One of the most difficult problems in opinion 
testing is the need of duplicating, in so far as possible, actual life situa- 
tions. Indeed, this is a problem of all psychological experimentation. 
Theoretical abstractions may go far astray from the humanly possible. 
It is reported of Catherine the Great that when her friend and teacher 
Diderot urged upon her the voluntary renunciation of autocracy, saying 
that despotism was criminal even if benevolent, the Czarina replied with 
amiable sarcasm, " These fine-sounding principles of yours may be all 
very well in the world of books, but they do not suit the world of affairs. 
You do your work on patient paper. I, who am only an empress, have 
to work on human skins, and they are ticklish." 1 In opinion testing, 
the closer the approximation to life situations, the better the test. 

On the effects of pictorial forms in changing opinion, our discussion 
will be limited to the motion-picture studies of L. L. Thurstone. Indeed, 
but little other experimental work has been done in this field. For 
several years after 1929, in connection with the Payne Fund Studies of 
Motion Pictures and Youth, Prof. Thurstone gave attitude tests to 
high-school students in Illinois communities and to children at the 
Mooseheart Home, before and after showing them selected motion pic- 
tures. 2 The problems of opinion change that were dealt with were the 
effects of single pictures, the cumulative effect of pictures and the per- 
sistence of effect. The tests used were attitude scales and paired-com- 
parisons tests. The procedures and results follow: 

1. An attitude scale on the Germans and on war was given to 133 
high-school children of Genoa, 111. Twelve days later the motion picture 

1 Quoted by Fulop-Miller, R., Leaders, Dreamers and Rebels, p. 130, 1935. 

2 Peterson, R. C., and Thurstone, L. L., Motion Pictures and the Social Attitudes 
of Children, 1933; Thurstone, L. L., "The Measurement of Change in Social Attitude, 1 ' 
Jour. Soc. PsychoL, 2: 230-241; "Influence of Motion Pictures on Children's Atti- 
tudes," Jour. Soc. PaychoL, 1: 291-304. 


Four Sons, a picture sympathetic to the personal problems of a German 
family, was shown. The following day the students were retested. On 
a scale of 11 points the average attitude of the group before seeing the 
picture was 5.66, afterward 5.28, a change of opinion favorable to Ger- 
mans in the amount of the difference, which is not large. The tests on 
war indicated a change from an average attitude of 5.19 to 5.10, a small 
change toward disapproval of war. 

2. A number of pictures on gambling and on prohibition shown in 
several communities brought about practically no change in opinion; 
in one case the average on the scale was 6.96 before and 6.97 after seeing 
the picture. Likewise a picture on capital punishment, The Valiant, 
was shown without appreciable effect. A picture The Criminal Code 
shown to 276 students in Watseka and 246 in Galesburg brought about 
considerable change in attitude toward the punishment of criminals. 
Greater leniency was espoused with changes from 5.30 to 4.80, and from 
5.13 to 4.64 in Galesburg. 

3. Marked changes in expressions of opinion about racial groups were 
brought about by the showing of pictures. Two pictures, Son of the 
Gods, a romantic melodrama with a Chinese hero, and Welcome Danger, 
a picture so alien to Chinese interests that the Chinese ambassador had 
lodged a complaint against it, were shown, the first in Geneva, the other 
in West Chicago, 111. The picture with the Chinese hero made the high- 
school students more favorable toward the Chinese on the average of 
6.72 on the scale to 5.50, a very great change. The other brought about 
a slight (5.71 to 5.88) increase in antipathy. Although it is probably 
true that in general there is a greater willingness to make favorable rather 
than unfavorable changes, these results could not be cited in proof of that 
contention, as the pictures are in no way equated. 

The most pronounced change in opinion on the race question 
was brought about by the picture The Birth of a Nation, which in 
its 1931 edition with sound accompaniment was exhibited to 434 
high-school students in Crystal Lake, 111. The change to attitudes 
unfavorable to Negroes was very pronounced, from an average on the 
scale of 7.41 to 5.93. The distribution of the results is indicated in 
Fig. 11. 

4. The cumulative effect of pictures was tested at Mooseheart, where 
the pictorial experiences of the subjects could be controlled. About 
750 children were divided into five groups, to which pictures were 
exhibited in various combinations. Some slight cumulative effect on 
opposition to war was noted when All Quiet on the Western Front and 
Journey 1 s End were combined. These pictures differed greatly from one 
another in the potency of their appeal to children of these age groups, 
and the conclusions are not very satisfactory. 



5. The persistence of effect was studied by retesting at intervals from 
10 weeks to 19 months. The effects of the motion pictures were claimed 
to persist, although there was a general tendency to return part way to 
the position held before the picture was presented. The adequacy of 
this retesting might be questioned. Would not a number of other factors, 
including the subject's memory of how the previous test had been 
answered, be involved in a series of retests, in addition to the effect of the 
single picture? 



1 ,00 






Attitude toward the Negro 

Unfavorable Favorable 

FIG. 11. Crystal Lake High School, Crystal Lake, 111. 434 children of grades 6-12 
inclusive. (From R. C. Peterson and L. L. Thurstone, Motion Pictures and Social Attitudes 
of Children, p. 37, 1933. Reproduced by permission of The Macmillan Company t publishers.) 
Meam (before) = 7.41 P.E.M^ = .046 en 1.4 m .55 

Meam (after) - 5.93 P.E.M.* .070 <r* = 2.2 
E>Mi-Afi - 1-48 P.E.D .058 D/P.E.D 25.5 


A number of quantitative studies of opinion change as reflected in 
statements of opinion in periodicals, in citizens 1 voting records, in straw 
votes as compared with elections, in the voting records of legislative 
bodies, in changing buying habits and in other behavior records have been 
made in the past few years. These sources have long been used as indi- 
cators of opinion, but only recently has there been any quantitative treat- 
ment. For some purposes such indirect evidence is superior to testing; 
but, as we have previously shown, forms of behavior other than that 
recorded on tests are by no means invariably superior indexes of attitude. 
Further, it must be very certain that the samples are adequate if they are 
to be used as a basis for generalization. This is very difficult to deter- 
mine in any exact fashion. For example, in the most ambitious study of 
changing attitudes attempted by an American student, Hornell Hart 
counted the titles of the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature from 1905 


to 1932. The titles were classified by subjects, and the increase and 
decrease of discussion were thus noted. This was a most ingenious 
utilization of sources. But if, on this basis, one presumes to report on 
the changing social attitudes and interests for America during those 
years, one may well be questioned on the adequacy of the sample, as the 
author himself recognizes. 1 In addition, to what extent does magazine 
opinion express general social attitudes? What sections of the popula- 
tion are not thus represented? What geographic areas produce and 
read few periodicals? Printed opinion is but one kind of expression of 
opinion; others will be found in movies, books, speeches, radio, and 
other media. Do articles express the attitudes of readers? Even after 
classifying periodicals according to general circulation, does a mere 
counting of titles of articles therein provide an adequate sample? Do 
titles adequately reflect subject matter? Does the amount of discussion 
in periodical literature necessarily introduce or even herald change? 
Would not the proportion of articles pro and con be indicative of prob- 
able change in mass opinion? There is often a great deal of discussion 
about some spectacular issue which is not seriously defended by many 
people and upon which there is little likelihood of popular opinion change. 
Is it adequate to consider only the number of articles, when one article, 
because of the prestige of its author, the way it is written, and the like, 
may have ten times the readers and a hundred times the effectiveness 
of another article with the same title? These and other questions 
evidence the caution that must be exercised in generalizing from these 
results. The amount of discussion on the twoscore of topics classified 
in this study was expressed in terms of articles per thousand indexed 
by years. If we agree with the author's premise that discussion is 
most intense at two periods in the life of a social institution, when it 
is under construction and when it is being remodeled or demolished, 
we have here a rough sort of measure of opinion change from indirect 

Some elaboration of this procedure appears in a later contribution of 
Prof. Hart. 2 In this study of opinion change about business prosperity, 
there was not only a mere counting of the number of articles dealing with 
this and allied topics, but also some qualitative analysis of statements 
made in the articles and of types of words used. For example, in support 
of the proposition " Economic conditions are good or sound/' there were 
found in the huge-circulation magazines during 1929, 283 affirmative 
attitude indicators and only 63 negative, whereas during the first three 

*Hart, II., "Changing Social Attitudes and Interests," in Recent Social Trends, 
Chap. 8, 1933. 

2 Hart, H., "Changing Opinions about Business Prosperity," Am. Jour. Social., 
38: 665-687. 


months of 1932 there were 89 affirmative and 266 negative statements. 
This is not exact measurement, but it is counting, which gives a rough 
approximation of trends. There was also some counting of the opti- 
mistic and pessimistic words used in titles and headlines. Another com- 
parison was made in contrasting the magazines of large circulation with 
the Survey, New Republic, Nation and Christian Century in the number of 
articles dealing with the "buy now," "anti-hoarding" and similar cam- 
paigns. There were fifteen times as many articles in the journals of 
mass circulation. The entire study covered the years 1929 through 
1932, and, in addition to the mere counting of titles in the Readers' 
Guide, some analysis of content was attempted by the counting of state- 
ments made in the articles on some twenty-five propositions and topics. 
Throughout, there is a comparison of journals of mass circulation (a mil- 
lion or more) with the Survey, Nation, New Republic and Christian Cen- 
tury. The problems of size, of sample, the definition of units and the 
question of the extent to which the media of communication express the 
opinions of their readers must be carefully considered in studies of this 
type. However, with all the limitations, some gains result from supplant- 
ing impressionistic accounts with quantitative data. In many fields, 
quantitative analysis of certain aspects of the changing content of various 
media might be profitably attempted. For example, the journals, 
papers and other records of reform movements might be studied in this 
way; the changing content of certain sections of the newspaper might 
profitably be quantified; the output of various special interest groups 
might be dealt with in a more detailed and significant fashion with a 
closer definition of units than was possible with these journals of huge 
circulation. We have elsewhere indicated some of the possible uses of 
successive studies of content for recording opinion change. 1 

Voting registers expressions of opinion within the limited categories 
of "yes" and "no." Some quantitative studies of opinion change by 
analysis of votes have been made by political scientists during recent 
years. Of these, we may illustrate two types, (1) the comparison of 
voting records and (2) straw votes in comparison with voting records. 
Of the first, the votes compared on various issues may be those of a 
special group or of a general electorate. H. C. Beyle compared the votes 
of legislators for the 1927 session of the Minnesota State Senate, showing 
not only the changing expressions of opinion by individuals but also the 
various blocs with different degrees of similarity in voting record. 2 With 
his ingenious methods of analysis, the voting record of any small group 
may be examined to find significant cohesions of subgroups as indicated 

1 See Chap. XIX. 

2 Beyle, H. C., Identification and Analysis of Attribute-Cluster-Bloc*, University of 
Chicago Press, 1931. 


by the successive votes. C. H. Wooddy and S. A. Stouffer examined 
the evidence of some 14,000 elections in attempting to answer the ques- 
tion whether or not the opportunity for a community to decide a public 
issue by vote tends to stabilize public opinion on that issue. 1 Does 
changing opinion tend to change just so far and then become fixed, if 
public expression through voting must be given from time to time? 
Their data were taken from the election returns of Massachusetts com- 
munities, where for 40 years each town was required to vote annually 
on saloon licensing, and from counties in Arkansas and Michigan. 
Although the findings were inconclusive in some details, in general it 
appeared that there was a marked tendency to vote more decidedly wet 
or dry after some local option experience. Some crystallization of opinion 
apparently occurs when an issue must be met time after time. Although 
the conclusions of this single study are obviously inadequate for generali- 
zations about the process of opinion change, it is this type of study that 
will lay the foundations for sound generalization. 

Prophecies of voting and of opinion change have of late years increas- 
ingly been made on the basis of samples and straw votes. The statisti- 
cian, taking samples at successive periods, noting the rate of change, 
making assumptions with regard to continued change and projecting 
his trends may prophesy the voting record. 2 W. F. Willcox, inspecting 
the records of the various states, concluded that there were sixteen in 
1922 and thirty-seven in 1930 which were above the 50 per cent line and 
so would have probably cast a majority of wet votes. Projecting the 
changing sentiment of the other states, he concluded that the voters 
would be ready to vote for repeal in Iowa in March, 1931, Nebraska in 
October, 1931, and the like, to North Carolina, which would be ready 
in July, 1968. However, the dangers of simply projecting trends 
for any phenomenon that may be as swiftly changed as popular opinion 
must be apparent. There has not been much quantitative prophecy of 
this type. 

Not only the data of successive voting records, but also samples such 
as the straw vote may be compared with the election returns in studying 
opinion change. C. E. Robinson has summarized American experience 
with straw votes. 3 Although popular interest in straw votes (and hence 
their significance in changing the very thing they are sampling in order 
to predict) has been aroused only during the past decade, there have 
been polls of this sort for forty years. First started by the newspapers, 

1 Wooddy, C. H., and Stouffer, S. A., "Local Option and Public Opinion," Am. 
Jour. SocioL, 36: 175-205. 

* Willcox, W. F., " An Attempt to Measure Public Opinion about Repealing the 
18th Amendment," Jour. Am. Slot. Assoc., 26: 243-261. 

* Robinson, C. E., Straw Votes, Columbia University Press, 1932. 


they have been taken up by commercial organizations (the Rexall drug 
store ^residential poll of 1920) and have been most significantly and 
extensively developed by periodicals, especially the Literary Digest. The 
sponsors gain in publicity, advertising, circulation and reader interest. 
The voting may be on ballots in the paper or periodical, by personal 
canvass or by mailed ballots. The mailing lists of the Literary Digest 
were compiled from telephone directories and automobile-registration files. 
Its circularization list contained over twenty million names. In the polls 
on candidates for the years 1916, 1920, 1924 and 1928, the Literary Digest 
polls showed an average plurality error of 20, 21, 12 and 12 per cent. 1 
Other straw votes have erred from that of the Hearst newspapers in 1928 
with 5 per cent of average plurality error for states to that of the Farm 
Journal with 17 per cent error in the same election. The principal 
causes of straw-poll error, according to Robinson, are (1) manipulation, 
dishonest count for popular effect on voting, (2) stuffing the ballot box, 
(3) geographical bias, (4) class bias, disproportionate representation of 
one economic or social class, (5) voting in straw poll but failure to vote 
in official election, (6) an insufficient number of straw ballots, (7) change 
of opinion during time between straw ballot and election. 2 

Not only changing opinion on candidates but also popular opinion 
on issues has been tested by straw votes. Of these, the Literary Digest 
polls of 1922, 1930 and 1932 on prohibition are the most extensive, and 
the Gallup polls have dealt with the larger number of issues. In 1922, 
ballots were mailed to eight million telephone owners, in 1930 to twenty 
million automobile and telephone owners (five million votes returned) 
and in 1932 to about the same number. Numerous as were the ballots of 
these Literary Digest polls, certain errors in sampling have frequently 
been charged. They are: (1) that the rural sample is inadequate (charge 
probably unfounded) ; (2) class bias, that the mailing list based on tele- 
phones and automobiles does not reach certain sections of the working 
class (true) ; (3) that the poll did not adequately reach women, who vote 
drier than the men (contention sound) ; (4) that the returns were distorted 
because the dry leaders counseled their following not to vote (in part 
true). 8 The difficulties of management and the problems of adequate 
sampling persistently distort these straw votes for measuring opinion 
change. They can be fairly accurate, but it is questionable whether it 
would pay any sponsor to exercise the care in management necessary 
to assure reliability. 

The preelection polls of 1936 provide the most extensive data on the 
possible accuracy and the relative reliability of present methods used in 

1 7Wa. f p. 72. 
* Ibid., p. 78. 
9 Ibid., pp. 147 ff. 



straw votes. The week before the election the predictions of the most 
widely publicized polls were: 



5 of major 
vote 1 



Literary Digest 


67 4 

American Institute of Public Opinion 






Crossley Survey 



Baltimore Sun 



Farm Journal 



"Grass roots " 

39 5 

60 5 

i Cantril, H., "Straw Votes This Year Show Contrary Minds," New York Timet, Oct. 25, 1936. 

In the election the Roosevelt vote was 60.2 per cent of the major party 
vote. When the predictions of electoral, rather than popular, vote are 
considered, the polls are seen to have diverged even further from the 
election results. The Literary Digest prophesied a Landon victory with 
370 electoral votes. In the election Roosevelt won 523 out of a possible 
531 votes. 

Why were the polls so inaccurate? Why did they differ so greatly 
from one another? The election indicated that there is still much to be 
learned about sampling techniques. In the preelection controversy over 
method, one group relied on a large sample, other groups on selected 
samples. All the polls were conducted by mailed ballots, personal inter- 
views or combinations of the two. The Literary Digest mailed 10,000,- 
000 ballots; had 2,158,789 returned. The American Institute of Public 
Opinion (Gallup) uses a combination of mailed ballots and interviews 
with a sample never exceeding 300,000, and usually much less than that. 
The Fortune poll was based on about 3000 interviews, and the relative 
accuracy of their prediction must have been based on chance, as such a 
small sample could not possibly include the various groups in the United 
States. The Crossley Survey, published by Hearst, used about 30,000 
interviews. The Baltimore Sun circularized the registered voters of 
Maryland, sending out 771,000 ballots and having less than 300,000 
returned. The Farm Journal made a house-to-house canvass of farmers 
in thirty states. The "grass-roots" poll was conducted by ballots 
printed in country newspapers. None of the results were so accurate 
as their sponsors had hoped and predicted. However, the relatively 
greater accuracy of the Gallup and Crossley polls indicates the superiority 
of selective sampling over mass ballots by mail. But the various methods 


and sampling techniques would differ in their accuracy on different elec- 
tions, as the voting public is of different composition in each election. 
Of the 75,000,000 potential voters in the United States, about 60 per cent 
voted in the fiercely contested 1936 election. And the same 60 per cent 
would not vote in the next election. Therefore, a poll is a sample of a 
sample, and the methods of collecting the poll sample will be determined 
somewhat by the composition of the general election sample. A. M. 
Crossley concludes as to the sample that: 

1. It must be flexible. Its basis must not be an outdated mailing 
list. It must be so designed that it can be adjusted readily if new informa- 
tion, such as registration figures, becomes available during its course. 
As a part of its flexibility, it must reveal enough about the individual 
voter and about individual cities and towns, economic groups, etc., to 
permit adjustment where needed. 

2. A fairly small sample will work properly in all but close states. 

3. The distribution of the sample is of paramount importance. 

4. It should be not cumulative, but repeated in similar cross sections 
at intervals to show trends. 

On all these counts the Literary Digest method is outmoded. l 

Since the election the polls have been denounced in many editorials 
and articles and in the comments of public officials. Some oppose the 
polls as useless and inaccurate. Others consider the revelation of 
public opinion at frequent intervals and on many topics as dangerous to 
our form of government, claiming that legislators, if convinced of the 
accuracy of polls, would be all too apt to heed the results from week to 
week. Again, straw votes are condemned by those who are convinced 
that publication of results draws voters to the winning side in " band- 
wagon " fashion. The polls have also been viewed with suspicion as 
potential agencies of conscious propaganda. The nature of the polling 
procedure is such that either simple issues or greatly simplified issues 
provide the best subject matter. It is charged that sustained popular 
interest in the polls would result in directing attention toward the 
simple but not necessarily the most important issues. If we grant the 
possibility of a much more accurate sampling technique so that the polls 
more adequately reflect popular impressions, the attitude of various 
types of societal leaders toward frequent polling will be based upon their 
special interests and more fundamentally upon the attitudes of various 
groups of leaders toward a larger or lesser incorporation of popular 
opinions in legislative and executive decision. 

Even though an accurate sample were taken by straw ballot about 
any issue or candidate, the position of the voting public might change 
before election. With the popularity of these polls and the widespread 

1 See Crossley, A. M., "Straw Polls in 1936," Pub. Opin. Quar., 1: 27. 


publicity given to the results, such polls themselves become a factor in 
opinion change. The shift of opinion to majority opinion has been 
experimentally demonstrated in a few attitude studies of student sub- 
jects. It is probably a general principle wherever majority opinion is 
known. The possibilities of the use of successive straw polls on the same 
subject to indicate changing opinion have not been explored. In this 
case, with identical methods, the polls could be made fairly nearly alike 
and the results then compared. However, successive voting records 
become meaningful and useful for prediction, only in so far as there is 
some understanding of the changing attitudes behind these shifts in 
opinion. And these are not apprehended by a mere examination of the 
counted results of yes-no polls. If one is to be a prophet, the interven- 
ing stimuli that have affected an opinion change must be known as well 
as the composition of the attitudes of those who have not as yet shifted 
opinion, at least not so far as to reverse their votes. And straw polls 
limited to yes-no responses will not provide this information. 

Politicians, reporters, publicity men and commentators on world 
affairs work out informal, usually nonquantitative devices for testing 
opinion change. Prognostication based thereon may be far from an 
exact science, but it is often amazingly accurate. Walter Lippmann 
recently states: 

Newspaper men develop devices of various sorts by which they test opinion. 
Many of them sound absurd when described in cold print. For example, a 
political writer once told me that he used to take the pulse of Woodrow Wilson's 
emotional attitude by watching how often the word "very" appeared in a speech 
of Mr. Wilson's. He had found that when Mr. Wilson was least sure of himself, 
he put a very in front of all his adjectives and generally doubled his adjectives 
as well ; that, said my friend, was Mr. Wilson's way of whistling when he had to 
pass a cemetery at night. Another Washington observer used to look to see how 
long Mr. Hoover's sentences were and particularly how many dependent clauses 
were hanging onto their coat-tails. On days when Mr. Hoover was unusually 
complicated, this newspaper man would shake his head and say: "The President 
has certainly been worrying over that." My own particular method of guessing 
at the state of confidence among those who in the chief centers of population 
strike the key-notes of feeling among business men is a gadget that I am almost 
ashamed to acknowledge. It is the stock market average of industrial securities. 1 

The experimental study of opinion record and opinion change has 
just begun. Most of its fundamental problems are as yet unsolved. 
To what extent may the results of present opinion tests be trusted? 
Under what conditions will the subject sincerely express his real opinion? 

1 Lippmann, W., syndicated article in Today and Tomorrow column, May 5, 1935. 
Quoted by permission of New York Tribime, Inc. 


How is it possible to differentiate between such opinions and conventional 
responses? On what subjects will conventional responses be most likely 
in various kinds of publics? Will there be a consistency between opinion 
expression and other forms of overt behavior? Has the subject had an 
opinion before the test, or was his response induced by the test? Has he 
been conscious of the attitudes underlying his opinions? Will the same 
opinion be expressed at another time under similar circumstances? May 
the processes of opinion change be considered with any measure of 
detachment as processes, or will the variation with different subject 
matter be so great as to prevent the development of social science in this 
field? There are many fundamental problems of method here. 

Limited attempts to answer a few of these questions have been made. 
T. F. Lentz retested with the same set of questions one month after giving 
his test and recorded the changes in statement of opinion. 1 Two hundred 
statements were given to fifty-seven students in each case. Changes in 
opinion occurred in 19.6 per cent of possible cases; 44 per cent of these 
changes were from agreement to disagreement, 50 per cent from dis- 
agreement to agreement. However, considering the entire group, 81 per 
cent of the changes neutralized one another, leaving only 19 per cent of 
the total number of changes as the difference between the first and second 
test. This resulted in a correlation of .94 between the total results of the 
first and the second test. Of course, as this second test was given a 
month after the first, it cannot be assumed that the changes which did 
occur were due to momentary impulse and lack of opinion on the ques- 
tions. A certain amount of change of opinion due to the intervening 
influences may have occurred. The results of this test are by no means 
conclusive, the number of subjects was small and variability in response 
would certainly vary with subject matter. However, the author has 
raised a very important question which should be intensively investigated. 

The tendency to answer affirmatively rather than negatively should 
also be studied. M. F. Fritz conducted an investigation that indirectly 
bears upon this problem. 2 In nineteen true-false examinations in which 
211 statements were true and 209 were false a total of 3065 errors were 
made of which 64 per cent were "true" answers (incorrect) and 36 per 
cent were "false" answers. The margin of 28 per cent between the two 
indicated an unmistakable tendency to give "true" reactions rather than 
"false." Further, this tendency to give "true" responses was about the 
same, regardless of whether class materials on which the students had 
been instructed or statements on which they had not been informed, were 
used. This seems to indicate a tendency to answer affirmatively. Other 

1 Lentz, T. F., "Reliability of Opinionaire Technique Studied Intensively by 
Retest Method," Jour. Soc. Psychol., 5: 338-364. 

* Fritz, M. F., "Guessing in a True-false Test," Jour. Ed. PsychoL, 18: 558. 


evidence likewise verifies these results. It is likely that opinion tests 
would show a similar tendency. 

To what extent does the knowledge of majority opinion influence 
responses to tests? D. Wheeler and H. Jordan gave a questionnaire 
of fifty questions on campus affairs and political and economic issues. 1 
A week later the same questionnaire was given once more to get chance 
changes in opinion. Then the answers to both tests were tabulated, 
and those which showed a two-thirds majority of either yes or no answers 
were selected to be given once more. Twenty-seven questions had such 
a majority. Given the statements the third time, the subjects were 
informed indirectly of the previous results, but were not given the impres- 
sion that they were expected to let this influence their opinions. The 
results of the third test showed that group opinion facilitates the agreeing 
of individual opinions to an extent of about three times chance when the 
majority answers to the statements are "yes," and about one-half chance 
when the majority answers are "no." There did not appear to be any 
significant differences according to subject matter of the questions. 
These data likewise augment the evidence on the problem considered in 
M. F. Fritz's study. 

Evidence on these problems could be gleaned not only from test 
material but alsq^from case studies of opinion change, especially if the 
cases were handled quantitatively in so far as possible. A recent volume 
on race attitudes in children contains materials that might be thus 
treated. 2 The case studies provide more detailed responses which make 
possible a more sympathetic understanding of the processes of opinion 

Experimental literature has touched on but few points and has dealt 
with limited subject matter. Its reliability and validity are often ques- 
tionable. The tests have frequently created wholly abnormal and 
unusual conditions. The subjects tested have been a limited group, 
most often those in educational institutions. Faulty though the pro- 
cedures are, they must be refined and increasingly used in the future. 
The variety of human interactivity and of the opinion process has 
become too great for adequate synthesis and generalization otherwise. 
The results of experimental procedures must provide suggestions for 
the synthesizer and interpreter. From these studies of behavior he 
must assume human attitudes and be able to enter into sympathetic 
observation of individuals as members of groups. These processes 
cannot be disjointed. There is no choice. All of the process must be 

1 Wheeler, D., and Jordan, H., "Changes of Individual Opinion to Accord with 
Group Opinion," Jour. Abn. Soc. Psychol., 24: 203-215. See also Jennes, A., "Social 
Influences in the Change of Opinion," Jour. Abn. Soc. Psychol., 27: 29-34. 

* Lasker, B M Race Attitudes in Children, pp. 261-385, 1931. 


^ Faith must be persuaded to men, and not imposed upon them."*j 

" Yet it would be better that they were coerced by the sword of tnat 
magistrate that beareth not the sword in vain than that they should be 
suffered to bring many others into their own error." 1 

Not only the churchman quoted above but innumerable men of good 
will during the past several centuries ha-ve found themselves torn between 
a liberal disposition and the urgency of propagandizing a special cause. 
In the art of persuasion it is especially difficult to realize that the end 
does not justify the sacrifice of an abstractly liberal stand. Yet freedom 
from censorship has become increasingly important during the past two 
centuries as the agencies of mass communication have increased and 
diffused. The struggle for the control of these media assumed epic 
proportions. In heroic deeds and nobly liberal utterances, outstanding 
leaders have defied authoritarian restriction. Today a liberal, freedom- 
granting, democratic way of life stands in stark contrast to a now widely 
diffused authoritarian, censoring, propagandizing rule. These modern 
authoritarian states are not new in principle. They are historically the 
rule. They are newly equipped with elaborate techniques of mass 
impression and restriction. But it is not simply a struggle of ideological 
contrasts. Few social processes are so simply particularistic. The 
complex of ideas, psychological attitudes, culture forms and economic 
and objective patterns are, as usual, in intricate interrelation. However, 
the history of the ideas is a basic element, and we cannot proceed to a 
discussion of the conflict between censorship and freedom of communica- 
tion until we have briefly traced the rise of the ideas of liberty and 
liberalism in modern thought. 

The essential idea of that concept which, since the eighteenth century, 
has been designated as "liberalism" is the free play of intelligence out of 
which man may by rational consent subscribe to the organization and 
institutions of society. The idea had appeared in the ancient philoso- 
phies, but it was not until the excessive autocracies of the seventeenth 
century had awakened in many groups a popular demand for liberty that 
the social philosophy of liberalism emerged. Laski relates its appearance 
to the overthrow of the medieval papacy and the resulting widespread 

1 St. Bernard 



spirit of Inquiry; to the development of a secular temper replacing 
spiritual with social values; to the widening of the physical world by 
geographer discovery and the accompanying enlarged data on primitive 
cultures; to the growth of scientific knowledge which challenged the 
accepted religious verities; to the accompanying philosophical systems 
which incorporated the experimental method. 1 In the field of political 
and economic power a large middle class was arising, increasingly cramped 
by the authoritarian concepts of church and state. Beliefs and the social 
realities were in rapid transition. Philosophers with new frameworks 
of definitions were awaited. The essential concepts came from England, 
where peaceful conditions and political history were more favorable to 
the development of liberal philosophy than in the war-torn and central- 
ized states of the Continent. Locke (1632-1704) pronounced the basis 
of government to be in the consent of the people. Political organization 
existed for the individual good. Man has natural rights to life, liberty 
and property. The social contract of free men provides the area within 
which political institutions may operate. Moreover, theocratic govern- 
ment can claim no political validity. Reason was enthroned as innately 
characteristic of man. Locke's liberalism also defended the individual's 
right to property, safe from the confiscatory aggressions of the state. 2 
His influence was enormous. The liberal temper of Locke's generation 
was canalized by his concepts. He became the " gospel of the 
Protestants," the progenitor of Rousseau, and in his insistence on the 
consent of the governed was significant in the American and French 

This early liberalism, preoccupied essentially with political processes, 
was modified by the course of the economic history of the eighteenth 
century to relate primarily to freedom in production and exchange. 
Industrial and commercial expansion centered attention upon the role 
of the state in these fields. In England, Adam Smith (1723-1790) 
pronounced the economic activities of man an outgrowth of natural law, 
and state interference an invasion of individual liberty. In France, 
the Physiocrats, surveying an agrarian society, likewise protested govern- 
mental interference. The economists propounded a laissez-faire liberal- 
ism. Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) denounced the existing legal 
restrictions upon industrial expansion as an unwarranted interference 
with individual happiness and the sum of happiness to be enjoyed by the 
greatest possible number. A growing and powerful class of industrial 
leaders espoused this economic liberalism which coincided with their 
interests. Bentham brushed aside the earlier concepts of natural rights 
and substituted a liberalism based upon the rights of individual welfare. 

l Laski, H. J., "The Rise of Liberalism," Ency. Soc. Sci., 1: 104-106. 
1 Dewey, J., Liberalism and Social Action, pp. 6 ff., 1935. 


However, as applied in the economic field euch liberalism led increas- 
ingly to widespread misery. The economic disadvantage of increasing 
numbers in the population became apparent. During the nineteenth 
century the humanitarians, religionists and romanticists modified 
laissez-faire liberalism by advocating state interference through welfare 
legislation in the interest of the dispossessed, the exploited and the 
depressed workers. Liberalism was given a new definition, but it was 
also diluted into schools. Although modern liberals are in general 
committed to state interference in the interests of individual liberty, they 
never agree on the extent of state activity. Liberals have therefore had 
to undergo the snubs of the conservatives, the execrations of socialists 
and communists and the taunts of dictators. 1 Liberals have usually 
been at a disadvantage in periods of crisis. Those who cherish freedom 
of opinion fear the excesses of heated controversy and hesitate to assume 
either of the extreme positions on great and complicated issues. 

The development of various types of modern liberalism has given 
rise to the extended and thorough philosophic discussion of the nature of 
individual freedom and liberty and of authority and restraint. Although 
the Stoics had emphasized self-realization, and under early Christianity 
the disinherited were appealed to in terms of the dignity of the individual 
personality, the development of the organized church provided an institu- 
tional rather than individual concept of liberty for many centuries. 
Liberty was interpreted as freedom of the church institution from state 
control. 2 After the Reformation, from the sixteenth century onward the 
various aspects of individual liberty became a preoccupation of the 
theorist. By the eighteenth century, freedom and liberty conceived as 
" natural rights" had become emotionally charged words to arouse masses 
of revolutionaries, and in the nineteenth century they were applied to 
ever increasing fields of human relationships. " Freedom is a new 
religion, the religion of our time," said Heine, and Byron wrote, "I 
desire men to be free, as much from mobs as kings, from you as me." 

It is apparent from the foregoing discussion that liberty and freedom 
have been variously conceived at different times during the past four 
centuries. Liberty in the abstract is of concern only to the metaphy- 
sician; but for liberty in the realm of politics, religion, the other institu- 
tional structures and the media of communication, speech and the press, 
large groups of men have been willing to sacrifice and to fight. But the 
particular content of liberty will always be changing with the conditions 
of time and place. The sphere of action in which freedom is demanded 
will depend upon the area of behavior in which men feel momentarily 

1 European liberalism has had a thorough and incisive historian in De Ruggiero, 
G., The History of European Liberalism, 1927. 

* Lasfci, H. J., "Liberty," Eru,y. Soc. Sd., 9: 444. 


most fettered. Cooley has noted, "Every person at every stage of his 
growth is free or unfree in proportion as he does or does not find himself 
in the midst of conditions conducive to full and harmonious personal 
development." 1 Thwarted at various points, masses of men have rede- 
fined freedom and partially achieved it, often by means of violence. The 
history of liberty is the record of changing objectives. Once achieved, a 
particular form of liberty may then be partly restricted by laws, by 
judicial procedure, by the encroachments of administrative authority and 
by popular apathy. It has often been noted that freedom degenerates 
unless it has to struggle in its own defense. In the modern authoritarian 
states, political freedom has been sacrificed in part in the hope of enhanced 
economic security. It is said in defense of the Fascist state that the 
people are " enjoying the liberty of feeling themselves members, part and 
parcel, of a powerful, organic state, which is ruled for the welfare of 
everybody and not in the interests of a chosen few, a state which has 
social justice within and international prestige without its borders/' 2 
Such a conception is entirely alien to the tradition of political liberty as 
freedom of thought and expression, of education, of worship, of work, of 
association and assembly and of the right to change the party in power by 
means of elections. Although freedom may have many aspects, showing 
first one facet and then another, such authoritarian organization violates 
its very essence. 

Like all popular concepts, liberty and freedom have been stereotyped 
in phrases, slogans and popular catchwords. These do not keep pace 
with the changing concept, and the slogans of an earlier day may be used 
to confound the advocate of the essence of freedom. When Locke 
pronounced the right of private property relatively free from state 
aggression as the basis of freedom, he did so in terms of the economic and 
political organization of the seventeenth century. The property aspect 
was emphasized more and more until Blackstone could declare, "So 
great is the regard of the law for private property, that it will not author- 
ize the least violation of it; no, not even for the general good of the whole 
community." 3 But, to treat property ownership as sacred in an eco- 
nomic order of progressively limited ownership is a restriction upon 
other liberties, in so far as it limits the life activities of many people. 
In reference to the "have-nots," Justice Holmes' remark that "the 
necessitous man is not free" is often quoted. But rights of property are 
expressed not only in the web of legal definitions but also in popular 
phrases accumulated during the past two centuries. Thus great corpora- 
tions cry for protection from the "tyranny" of governments, and chains 

1 Cooley, C. H., Human Nature and the Social Order, p. 424, 1902. 

1 Pei, M. A., "Freedom under Fascism," Ann. Am. Acad. Pol. Soc. Sci., 180: 13. 

* Quoted by Smith, T. V., The Promise of American Politics, p. 51, 1935. 


of newspapers the content of which could by no stretch of the imagina- 
tion be said to be determined by those who actually write them cry 
for "freedom of the press." 1 Psychological obfuscation not only of 
publics but also frequently of the experts permits such perversion. 

The achievement of individual liberty in any field is dependent upon 
freedom of thought and discussion. Freedom of assembly, speech, writ- 
ing and all the forms of communication underlies individual liberty. 
Censorship is the restriction of the content of any means of communica- 
tion. Such restriction defends some special interest usually incapable of 
defending itself under free discussion. Freedom of expression is never 
completely won. The beginnings of general public discussion in the 
Reformation were not immediately followed by the development of a 
principle of free discussion. The early Protestant church leaders eagerly 
censored their opponents when the opportunity to do so was presented. 
The passion for freedom of thought and discussion increased through 
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, being gradually extended among 
the theologians, philosophers, literary leaders, artists and scientists. 
Reason was increasingly taken as a guide of life. Leaders issued fine- 
sounding pronouncements on the principle of freedom of expression. 
Voltaire wrote, "Though I disagree with every word you say, I will 
defend with my life your right to say it." With the coming of the 
eighteenth century, the principle of free discussion permeated the upper 
and middle classes, although it was by no means universally accepted. 
At the close of the century, Thomas Jefferson wrote, "I have sworn 
upon the altar of the living God eternal hostility against every form of 
tyranny over the mind of man." But along with this powerful current 
of advocacy of free thought and free expression there were and are many 
forms of censorship, both informal and formal. There are the projec- 
tions of popular prejudices and mass standards and the organized 
censorship of church and state, legally imposed. The battle has been 
fought successively about each of the forms of communication from 
speech to the latest outbursts of popular censorship of motion pictures. 
To the nature of censorship, its forms, its history, its advocates and its 
applications we will now turn our attention. 


Censorship is the process of deleting or limiting the content of any 
of the media of communication. Although the process has become more 
organized and consciously applied during the past four centuries, it has 
existed as an informal control in all societies. The term "censorship" 

1 Liberty defined primarily as freedom to manage property without interference is 
discussed in Hoover, H., The Challenge to Liberty, 1935, and Lippmann, W., The Method 
of Freedom, 1935. 


comes from the Romans. In the fifth century B.C., the Roman Senate 
appointed two magistrates called "censors." Among the duties of the 
censors were the recording of a census of persons and the overseeing of 
their morals and manners, clothing, food and public and private behavior. 
The censors could, within limits, set standards in these fields and enforce 
their decrees by fines and other punishments. Modern censorship is 
preoccupied with the regulation of the transfer of ideas. This censorship 
policy arose with the popularization of the means of communication, 
especially the development of printing in the fifteenth century. Estab- 
lished power then faced new problems and sought protection by attempt- 
ing to limit the spread of ideas. Authority, desiring unanimity of 
thought as well as of action within the province of its special interests, 
limits the "bad" ideas, apparently believing with the poet, that 

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien 
As to be hated needs but to be seen; 
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, 
We first endure, then pity, then embrace. 

And so, from the first church regulation of printing in 1501 to the 
latest regulation by an authoritarian state, there are centuries of intermit- 
tent but often intensive censorship. In an Associated Press report 
from Germany during 1934, one read, "Five persons were sentenced to 
prison today for listening to Soviet broadcasts from the Moscow radio 
station. Sentences of one to two years were imposed because they tuned 
in while news about Germany was being broadcast by communists. . . . " 
Authority assumes the correctness of its position. As John Fiske 
declared, "The persecuting spirit has its origin morally in the disposition 
of man to domineer over his fellow creatures, intellectually, in the assump- 
tion that one's own opinions are infallibly correct/' 

Assumptions of infallibility in the institutional definitions of church 
and state provided the defense of early censorship. And classic liberal- 
ism, in opposition to these assumptions, took its stand against censorship 
and defined freedom as "freedom from" these restrictions. The con- 
cept of "freedom for" individual and group development did not develop 
until the nineteenth century. Such freedom may require restriction 
in the individual or group interest. Defense of censorship on that basis 
has not yet been definitively stated by English and American scholars. 

Censorship of communication and also of mental content is applied, 
not only by authoritarian restrictions, but also in the individual's mental 
processes. Of late years this has been described in psychologically 
sophisticated terms, especially by the psychoanalyst, Freud developed 
the idea of a censorship of thought whereby the dominant consciousness 
limited the admission of certain materials to conscious attention. In 


individual development, standards and values are learned from the 
general culture and also developed in ways that are individually unique. 
These standards, existing in the conscious mind, reject alien and danger- 
ous subjects. This process may be so complete that the dominant 
conscious does not recognize the entrance of these alien words, impres- 
sions, and ideas. But they exist in the preconscious or unconscious. In 
psychoanalytic literature, this material is assumed to lie in wait for a 
favorable opportunity to emerge, usually in symbolical form in slips of the 
tongue, puns, jokes, humor, mispronunciations, daydreams and dreams. 
The psychoanalyst sleuths through these symbols. He overemphasizes 
the frequency and amount of such materials. However, this limitation 
of the mental life may be verified by introspective analysis. It has 
never been adequately explained in neurological terms. 

In everyday experience such censorship is important. A newspaper 
reporter, having absorbed the standards of his employer and editor, 
limits his observation to what he should see, writes what he should write 
and after a time may be quite unaware of his limitations of observation 
and record. 1 The materials that are contrary to the individual's values 
may be labeled, whereupon refusal to attend to them is even more 
simply canalized. ''Labelling ideas, images and attitudes as evil, as 
immoral, as unpatriotic, is usually an effective method of stopping the 
development of such notions and attitudes. All forms of social taboos 
are designed to do just this. They furnish the individual with guide 
posts in his associative thinking which keep him within the boundaries 
set by the moral codes. The ideas, images or attitudes with which the 
new ideas conflict are sacred. They are right. They are proper. 
Therefore, persons having the same social and cultural heritage may 
develop a consensus of opinion that the divergent ideas or attitudes 
ought to be stopped." 2 Informal censorship is applied in the individual 
mental process, both in the case of restrictions of which he is not con- 
scious and of limitations consciously applied. 

The values, standards and ideas that are incorporated in the indi- 
vidual's attitudes are, for the most part, products of the culture in which 
he is involved. Shifting values determine the objects of censorship. 
When man's attention is turned to religion, heterodoxy and blasphemy 
are censored; the state represses treason; an ascendant industrial order 
attempts to restrict radical utterances; puritanical publics forbid verbali- 
zation of sexual processes; the Jones family does not mention the dis- 
graced Uncle John. Folk values are imposed on discourse V. Ran- 
dolph writes of the Ozark hillman: 

1 Seldes, G., Freedom of the Press, p. 350, 1935. 

1 Young, K. f Social Psychology, p. 636, 1930. Quoted by permission of F. S. Crofts 
<kCo., Ino. 


rjureiy lueuwuned save in ribaldry and is therefore excluded from all 
polite conversation between men and women. ... In general it may be said 
that the names of male animals must not be mentioned when women are present. 
. . . Such words as bull, boar, buck, ram, jack and stallion are absolutely taboo. 
. . . The Ozarkers usually say male, cow-critter or cow-brute, ... It was only 
a few years ago that two women in Scott County, Arkansas, raised a great clamor 
for the arrest of a man who mentioned a bull-calf in their presence. ... A 
preacher recently told his flock that Pharaoh's daughter found the infant Moses 
in the flags, the poor man didn't like to say bull-rushes. 1 

This informal censorship in the interests of the folk values is pervasive 
and insidious. It is usually far more effective than the formal censor- 
ship of a ruler or hierarchy. Their tyranny is seldom crushingly effec- 
tive or persistent. But the mores may restrict the areas of discussion 
during long periods. 

Censorship is a conflict process. Any particular censorship is 
rapidly incorporated in the emotional responses of the individual com- 
batants. Although ostensibly in the public interest, the actual objec- 
tives of the censor are all too often a punitive retribution upon stubborn 
minorities, and resistance to censorship becomes a holy cause. The 
tactics frequently become more and more extreme as the conflict pro- 
gresses, for, as Heywood Broun said of Anthony Comstock, "a man who 
fights for the safety of his immortal soul can hardly be expected to live 
up to the best Queensberry traditions in the clinches." 2 

The avowed objectives of censorship are the protection of incapable 
and incompetent groups from the harmful stimulus. The church 
members, the citizens, the newspaper readers, the females, the immature 
youth, the alien and other groups should, according to authority, be 
shielded from the sacrilegious, the seditious, the immoral or the unaes- 
thetic. Authority propounds the political, the economic or the ethical 
equivalent of the theological notion of the weakness and depravity of 
man from which he must be saved by stern ordering and forbidding. 
We shall consider briefly the application of censorship to various media of 


Any institutional structure is erected upon certain fundamental 
premises which must be unquestionably accepted by most of its adherents. 
Otherwise the institutional forms, structure or very existence is threat* 
ened. This is obviously true of formal church organizations. Funda- 
mental premises, if undiscussed and undiscussible, may thus be the more 

1 Randolph, V., The Ozarks, p. 78, 1931. Quoted by permission of Vanguard 
Press, Inc. 

f Broun, H., and Leech, M., Anthony Comstock, p. 26$, 1927. 


impregnably ensconced in an enveloping blanket of silence than behind 
a barricade of reasons and rationalizations. In the authoritarian tradi- 
tion this has usually been thought to be true. The High-churchman 
censors and is silent, the dictator does not permit comparative dis- 
cussion, the autocratic boss pocket-vetoes the underling's suggestion 
without comment. Whereas the insurgent sect, the outsider, the rebel 
and the liberal desire discussion during the period of the insurgency, 
perhaps believing with Tertullian that "when a thing is hidden away 
with so much pains, merely to reveal it is to destroy it." 

Many religious groups have attempted informal and formal censor- 
ship but the church of Rome in its long experience has instituted the 
most formal restrictive measures. The Index Librorum Prohibitorwn, 
developed since the invention of printing, is the modern expression of 
authoritarian selection of the limits of reading and comparative thought. 
It is a list of books that communicants must not read. Exceptions are 
readily made in the case of scholars, theologians and other trained 
students who, in good faith, desire to examine the prohibited works. The 
local bishop may grant such exceptions. Although there lias been less 
formal organization of restriction of communication among other religious 
groups, the spirit of the censor is ever abroad. In America, the Christian 
Scientists have organized an extensive and sometimes effective censor- 
ship. Whenever Protestant groups have developed very extensive 
organization with central authority, the clamor for censorship has arisen 
intermittently. A century ago a Protestant writer in England, opposing 
the rising demand for censorship, declared, "Let Protestants be con- 
sistent, let them be Protestants indeed; let them revere in act as well as 
in word the sufficiency of the Holy Scripture ; let there be no Protestant 
Index of prohibited books; let there be no shackles and cramps for the 
human mind." 1 Recently a Baptist leader drew loud cheers and applause 
from his audience by asserting that the Baptists have never persecuted 
those who differed with them or attempted to limit their freedom of 
expression. When the cheers had subsided, he drily added that they had 
never had a chance. Early Protestant churchmen zealously applied 
themselves to censorship and to the burning of books, although they 
lacked the system and organization of the Roman Catholic church. 
Savonarola enveloped Florence in a system of espionage. His child police 
visited homes, confiscating prohibited books and pictures as well as 
personal adornments which they carried off to the burnings. A few 
decades later Calvin, with even greater distrust of the capacities of man 
to resist the snares of the devil, organized in Geneva a rigid discipline by 
secular legislation. Catholic books of worship and song were confiscated 
and burned. Houses and shops were searched for all heretical books. 

1 "Indox Librorum Prohibitorum," British, Quar., 14: 133-156 (1851). 


In 1539 the magistrates decreed that all books must be examined and 
licensed before they could be printed. Considerable organization of 
censorship developed. Calvin's organization for suppression was care- 
fully studied by representatives from England and Scotland, and similar 
restrictions were later applied in Great Britain. In the revulsion against 
Rome, art objects, images, pictures, monuments and books were burned 
and their production censored. 1 It is difficult today to appreciate the 
fear and horror of the Roman Catholic church that came to prevail in 
England and Scotland. 

The longest and most consistent record of censorship is that of the 
Roman Catholic church. Isolated historical incidents, such as the 
burning of the works of the Greek philosopher Anaxagoras (450 B.C.) 
because of their impious implications, or the destruction of works on 
magic during the later Roman Empire, preceded organized censorship by 
the church. The church early forbade the reading of pagan and heretical 
books and, from the first centuries of the Christian church through the 
Middle Ages, condemned, burned and censored the production of many 
works. In the fifteenth century the invention of printing revolutionized 
the processes of communication. 2 At first the rulers of the church 
welcomed printing as a valuable instrument for the spread of sound 
doctrine and supported a number of the early presses. The use of the 
presses in the pamphleteering activities of the leaders of the Reformation 
aroused the churchmen to the potential perils of printing to the authority 
of the church and the uncorrupted purity of the minds of communicants. 
If the incapables were to be protected against the new heresies, some 
system would have to be devised whereby the printing press could be 
supervised and controlled. Before the end of the fifteenth century, the 
University of Cologne was examining and censoring every book before 
printing. 3 Pope Sextus IV congratulated the university. In 1501 
Alexander VI extended this practice by forbidding printers, under pain 
of excommunication, to print any book without permission of their 
bishops. General prohibition of books by title was started in 1520 when 
Leo X condemned all the writings of Martin Luther. Lists of prohibited 
books were then published by bishops, by the universities and by inquisi- 
tors. In this chaotic situation, Paul IV ordered the Congregation of the 
Holy Office to make a catalogue of prohibited books. In 1559 the first 
Index Librorum appeared. Its lists of condemned books were divided 
into three categories: (1) heretical works, (2) works on magic and immo- 

1 Gillett, C. R., Burned Books, 2 vols., 1932. 

See Chap. III. 

8 Putnam, G. H., The Censorship of the Church of Rome, 2 vols., 1906, is the most 
extensive and available work in English on church censorship; see also Bondinhon, A., 
41 Index," Ency. Religim and Ethics, vol. XVII, pp. 207-209. 


rality, (3) books generally unwholesome in doctrine, usually anonymous. 
In 1588 a Congregation of Cardinals and consultants was established, and 
this organization has continued to the present day and has been responsi- 
ble for the successive Indexes in their various editions. 1 Preoccupation 
with the struggle with Protestantism determined the content of the early 
Indexes. Although the editions of the past century have increasingly 
stressed moral rather than theological problems and thousands of the 
earlier prohibited items have been eliminated, it has been estimated that 
90 per cent of the condemned works in the 1930 edition deal with 
theology, dogma, ritual or history of the church. The eleven classes of 
works on the Index are : 

1. All books which propound or defend heresy or schism, or which of set 
purpose attack religion or morality, or endeavour to destroy the foundations of 
religion or morality. 

2. Books which impugn or ridicule Catholic dogma or Catholic worship, the 
hierarchy, the clerical or religious state, or which tend to undermine ecclesiastical 
discipline, or which defend errors rejected by the Apostolic See. 

3. Books which declare duelling, suicide, divorce lawful, or which represent 
Freemasonry and similar organizations as useful and not dangerous to the Church 
and to Civil society. 

4. Books which teach or recommend superstition, fortune-telling, sorcery, 
spiritism, or other like practices (e.g., Christian Science). 

5. Books which professedly treat of, narrate, or teach, lewdnes? and obscenity. 

6. Editions of the liturgical books of the Church which do not agree in all 
details with the authentic editions. 

7. Books and booklets which publish new apparitions, revelations, visions, 
prophecies, miracles, etc., concerning which the canonical regulations have not 
been observed. (This practically means that such books and booklets are 
forbidden if they appear without the bishop's approbation. . . . Newspapers, 
weeklies, etc., are not prevented by this rule from relating uncommon happenings. 
They should, however, be careful not to make such events appear as undoubtedly 
supernatural, before the Church has taken a stand.) 

8. All editions of the Bible or parts of it, as well as all biblical commentaries, 
in any language, which do not show the approbation of the bishop or some higher 
ecclesiastical authority. 

9. Translations which retain the objectionable character of the forbidden 

10. Pictures of Our Lord, the Blessed Virgin, and angels and saints and other 
servants of God, which deviate from the customs and the directions of the 

11. The term " books" includes also newspapers and periodicals which come 
under the foregoing classes, not, indeed, if they publish one or two articles 

1 G. H. Putnam lists 53 Indexes that were issued under the authority of the church 
from 1526 to 1900. 


contrary to faith and morals, but if their chief tendency and purpose is to impugn 
Catholic doctrine or defend unCatholic teachings and practices. 1 

The present Index is a volume of 563 pages, prohibiting a total of 
some 8000 works. The modern Index forbids, in general, the reading 
of books prejudicial to the faith, and no attempt has been made to 
examine and list all books that might be condemned. It is notable for 
its exceptions, as well as being an interesting historical document because 
of its selections. This is likewise true of the books prohibited on moral 
grounds. For example, no American writer is included. As far as the 
Index is concerned, Ingersoll, Paine, Walt Whitman and scores of 
moderns never existed. Nor did Rabelais. A few examples of philoso- 
phers and reformers on the Index are: Comte, Diderot, Descartes, Grotius, 
Rousseau, Renan, Savonarola, Taine, Spinoza, Locke, Voltaire and John 
Stuart Mill. Names in literature, such as Addison, Steele, Gibbon, Gold- 
smith, D 'Annunzio, Flaubert, France, Maeterlinck, Sand, Sue and Zola, 
are indexed. 2 The service of the Index in suppressing or discouraging 
books contra bonos mores has been characterized as unimportant. 3 The 
Index is not intended as a complete bibliography of prohibited books. 
It provides samples and notorious illustrations of types of condemned 

The Index, although variously applied, and with punishments of 
unequal severity at different times, has been one of the important instru- 
ments with which the church has attempted to guide and to restrict 
access of its members to the various means of communication. Some- 
times it has merely advertised the prohibited writings; sometimes it has 
proved ineffectual in stemming a tide of communication, as in sex 
expression in literature; but the extent to which it has inhibited the 
expression of writers and lecturers can never be known. This is especially 
true of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Today the variety of 
means of communication outside the authority of the church largely 
circumvents the effectiveness of an index. In its defense Cardinal Merry 
del Val wrote in the preface to the present edition: 

Hell is now stirring against the Church a more terrible battle than those of 
earlier centuries ... for the evil press is a more perilous weapon than the sword. 
St. Paul, as we know, set the example for censorship, he caused evil books to be 
burned. St. Peter's successors have always followed the example; nor could 
they have done otherwise, for their Church, infallible mistress and sure guide of 
the faithful, is bound in conscience to keep the press pure . . . those who wish 
to feed the Holy Scriptures to people without any safeguards are also upholders 
of free thinking, than which there is nothing more absurd or harmful. . . . only 

1 Quoted in Seldes, G., The Vatican, p. 168, 1934. 
* See article in New York Times. Nov. 10, 1930. 
1 Putnam, op. tit., p. 33. 


those infected by that moral pestilence known as liberalism can see in a check 
placed on unlawful power and profligacy a wound inflicted on freedom. 1 


The successive battles over freedom of speech have raged about 
freedom of assembly and public speech; the products of the press, news- 
papers, books, dramas and novels; pictures and pictorial art and, latterly, 
the radio. The center of conflict has shifted as authority has thought 
itself imperiled by one or the other medium of communication. Decrease 
of restriction and pressure in any field does not necessarily indicate an 
increased tolerance. It may mean that that form of expression is no 
longer thought to constitute a danger to authority, to social unity, and 
to traditional beliefs. A more conscious and intelligent leadership may 
permit soap-box oratory in the local scene, relatively unharried even by 
informal pressures, but may desire a considerable degree of control of 
motion picture, press and radio. Authority constantly encounters new 
problems in attempting to regulate communication. 

Agitation may be carried on through gossip and discussion, but is 
usually most effectively achieved in assemblies and mass audiences. 
Such groups give publicity to the issues. Thus freedom of speech is 
balked, if freedom of association is denied. Such freedom has never been 
universally admitted as a legal right. Even when, in recent times under 
democratic governments, freedom of assembly has been granted in 
principle, it has been hedged about by various restrictions. In Great 
Britain there is no direct legal barrier, but activity in many fields may 
bring one in conflict with the sedition laws. In the United States, most 
states have laws forbidding the promotion of syndicalist and Communist 
viewpoints, public discussion of birth control, a meeting assembled to 
plan crime (that is, violation of existing laws), the gathering of a group 
intending to commit a breach of the peace and a meeting assembled to 
use force or the threat of force (three or more persons creating a dis- 
turbance to terrify others constitute a riot). It is clear that no state 
charged with the maintenance of social order can admit unlimited right 
of association. In a democracy, bodies advocating the use of violence 
rather than persuasion to bring about social change threaten, not only 
an existing government, but the basic concept of majority rule. But at 
just what points should restrictions be applied and with regard to which 
issues? Which opinions should be prohibited? In which media of 
communication? Should one rule apply in normal times and another in 
crises? When will attempted interference with freedom of assembly 
simply exacerbate the temper of those interfered with and bring about 
a more vigorous opposition? These and many other questions of tactics 
1 Quoted by Seldea, op. cit. t p. 195. Reprinted by permission of Harper & Brothers. 


must be answered by authority. And frequently they are not answered 
wisely from the point of view of self-interest of that authority. In the 
conflict situation the emotional responses of the representatives of 
authority are also a factor in the situation. H. J. Laski has questioned 
whether restriction on association is ever effective in the long run, "It 
is difficult in the light of history to see that anything has been gained in 
the long run by multiplying prohibitions upon the right of association. 
Where men feel passionately upon some object they will combine to 
promote it; and any prohibition upon their effort to do so only serves to 
drive their activities into secret channels." 1 

The record of restrictions in the United States shows many incon- 
sistencies in attempted regulation in the interest of religious, state and 
special interests, especially economic interests. Until well toward the 
middle of the nineteenth century there were prosecutions for blasphemy 
based on the old strict Colonial statutes. Expressions considered 
dangerous to morals are still restricted under the Comstock Act of 1873. 
National restrictions on speech in assembly range from the Sedition Act 
of 1798, in which the Federalists induced Congress to make seditious 
libel a crime, to the Sedition Act of 1918 passed under the conditions of 
world war. The provisions of this act prohibited: (1) conveying false 
reports with intent to interfere with military or naval forces; (2) attempt- 
ing to cause disloyalty, insubordination or mutiny; (3) obstructing 
recruiting or enlistment; (4) obstructing the sale of United States bonds; 
(5) uttering abusive or disloyal language intended to cause contempt or 
disrepute as regards the form of government of the United States, the 
constitution, the flag or the uniform of the Army or Navy, or any 
language intended to incite resistance to the United States; (6) urging 
any curtailment of production of any things necessary to war; (7) 
advocating, teaching, defending or suggesting doing any of these acts; 
(8) words supporting or favoring the cause of any country at war with 
us. 2 The states, likewise, have passed a great many laws dealing with 
the conditions of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech. As each 
major issue in American history has come to the fore, there have been 
frequent denials of the freedom of assembly and speech to minority 

Legal restrictions and the police power of the state have often been 
augmented by the informal but effective restraints extralegally imposed 
by interested groups. Informal groups have dispersed the meetings of 
religious groups, abolitionists, feminists, race groups, birth-control advo- 
cates, strikers and many other minorities. From the Civil War onward, 

1 Laski, H. J., " Freedom of Association," Ency. Soc. Sci. t 6: 449. 
1 An extended description of procedure under this act will be found in Chafee, Z., 
Freedom of Speech, 1920. 


as economic groups became better organized, there were frequent struggles 
for freedom of assembly and expression and innumerable violations of 
these rights. In each of the great depressions, freedom of speech has 
become a hard-fought issue. With the increased organization of labor 
in the nineties, the battles became very bitter. From then until the 
World War, free-speech fights were constantly organized. The more 
extreme groups developed techniques especially annoying to authority. 
The IWW sometimes invited arrest, imported all members available into 
the disturbed community, started speeches by the score, were dragged off 
to jail in large numbers, until their nuisance techniques at times brought 
concessions from city councils and the rescinding of local ordinances on 
street speeches. In labor conflicts, freedom of assembly is denied in 
many a town and city to the present day. This is often achieved by 
indirection through city ordinances ostensibly aimed at some other 
objective and enforced by the local police power. 

Whoever has power usually has freedom of assembly and speech. 
Such freedom has frequently been denied, in practice, to minorities in 
the United States. As an increasing number of public officials have come 
to recognize the "safety-valve" function of such freedom, there has been 
somewhat less tampering with assembly, talk and discussion. However, 
in crises, old restrictions are invoked. But the center of conflict has 
shifted to what have become the more significant media of communi- 
cation, the press, motion pictures and radio. 

CENSORSHIP. (Concluded) 

" Modern society will be destroyed by ink" is a saying attributed to 
Napoleon. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, authority was 
already well aware of the power of the newspaper. Napoleon is said to 
have feared a powerful German newspaper more than an army corps. 
The European press was at that time fettered by libel laws and systems 
of licensing, and the newspaper in the United States was just obtaining 
protection from political interference under the First Amendment to the 
Constitution. The legal restrictions, however, are meaningful only in 
terms of their administration. Nominal freedom may be accompanied 
by large numbers of prosecutions under those laws which do exist, whereas 
laws may be ignored elsewhere. Yet legal limitations are not the only 
restrictions on freedom of expression. An absolutely free press exists 
nowhere except in the theoretical suppositions of extreme libertarians. 
There is always the restraint of social conventions, the popular standards, 
prejudices and beliefs of the society in which publication occurs. There 
is always the restraint imposed by the policy and interests of the owners 
or managers of the press. Their commercial objectives place obvious 
limitations on its content. 

The defense of formal censorship by authority is usually quite simple. 
The newspaper readers are to be protected from subversive minorities; 
from alien influences; from their own fears in wartime; from morally 
debasing accounts, and from such materials as are forbidden by the 
obscenity laws; from a too intrusive interest in the personal experiences 
of others; and, in general, from their own fallible thinking in whatever 
field authority decrees them to be peculiarly subject to error. Authority 
assumes a greater wisdom. 

The application of censorship during the past century has shown no 
consistent trends. In the United States, freedom from governmental 
restriction, except in wartime, has been accompanied by a growing 
restriction in the financial interest of owners and advertisers. In 
England, until recently there was a growing freedom from political con- 
trol but strict application of libel laws. There has been an increasing 
commercial interest. Vacillation in the theory and practice of censor- 
ship of newspapers in France has produced many swift reversals of 
policy. France has debated this issue more than any of the great 



nations, as evidenced by an enormous literature on freedom of the press. 
Other European powers have likewise fluctuated in censorship policy. 

After the World War, under the authoritarian governments that arose, 
countries theretofore permitting some measure of freedom instituted 
repressive measures. The postwar dictatorships limited freedom of 
speech both in theory and practice. The newspaper and the radio, as the 
most potent channels of communication, are now especially manipulated 
and controlled. The absolute right of the state to supervise the formation 
of public opinion is proclaimed. We shall consider briefly the censorship 
practices of Japan, Germany, France and the United States. 

Until the coming of the European dictators the control of the press in 
Japan was more complete than that existing anywhere in the world. 
Nothing may be printed in Japan that is considered by the Home Minis- 
try "subversive of public morals or provocative of disorder." Although 
of late years the trend has been toward relaxation of legal restrictions, 
commentators report that little actual liberty has been gained. H. E. 
Wildes states, "The more legal freedom is accorded the press the less real 
liberty exists. The journals of Japan are far from free. Experience has 
taught them that their liberation is illusory and that extra-legal controls 
are even more effective than the printed law." 1 However, the editors 
are usually in complete accord with the government on all foreign policy. 
They are thus governed by an inner loyalty and do not find the censor- 
ship irksome. If they should in any way be indiscreet in commenting on 
foreign relations, their papers may be censored or suspended by the Home 
Ministry, and by the War, Navy, and Foreign ministries. On home 
policies there is a certain latitude, always excepting anything affecting the 
emperor. If the news is not too disturbing, mild criticism of govern- 
mental policy is permitted. But "errors in diplomacy, distasteful truth, 
too aggressive activity, and scandals in the administration of the armed 
services" are to be kept, at all costs, from the eyes of foreigners. How- 
ever, the Japanese editors are not accustomed to the tradition or ideology 
of free speech and press and feel little rancor at such restriction. On the 
other hand, in dealing with persons, personal characteristics and behavior 
there is no such restriction as exists under the libel laws of England or even 
the very much less strict laws of the United States. The chief objectives 
of authority in Japan are to control the press in the interest of national 
welfare and to suppress radicalism, not to censor accounts of personal 
morality. Indeed, the Japanese papers constantly print accounts of the 
sex experiences of individuals prominent in public life. This reporting 
is often so detailed and frequently so personally libelous that it could be 
printed nowhere else in the world. The newspapers of Japan are censored 
and filled with propaganda. Their objective is the development of public 

Wildes, H. E., Japan in Crisis, p. 191, 1934. 


opinion to further what authority conceives to be the national interest. 
On international affairs the content of the newspapers reflects the position 
of the government. In the purveying of personal gossip, the editor is free. 
Effective censorship of the newspapers has usually been dependent 
upon secrecy and unobtrusive administration. At least this has been 
true wherever the principles of liberty and freedom have permeated the 
general population. Germany has been no exception to this principle. 
During the World War the German newspapers did not appear with 
blank spaces where the censor had at the last moment deleted a story, as 
was frequently true in France. The newspapers were by no means free, 
but the censorship was moderately subtle. Today, under the Nazis, 
having rejected the liberalistic civilization of the Western world, the 
censorship is not only probably the strictest in all Europe but it is also 
obvious. It has been estimated that the drop in circulation of news- 
papers since Hitler's advent to power is at least 30 per cent. 1 Censorship 
and propaganda are open and avowed. Walter Funk of the Propaganda 
Ministry has stated the government position in declaring that the German 
press is "no longer a barrel organ out of which everybody is permitted to 
squeeze whatever melodies he likes, but a highly sensitive and far-sound- 
ing instrument or orchestra on which and with which only those shall 
play who know how, and in whose hands the Flihrer himself has placed 
the conductor's baton." 2 In pursuing this objective the opposition press 
was abolished and there were left only the National Socialist papers, 
supported by the party and now part of the government, and the so-called 
"coordinated" press, which, although under private ownership, is subject 
to such rigid state control that its content on essential subjects is the 
same as that of the party papers. In either case both the editors and 
editorial writers must be licensed by the state. A law passed in October, 
1933, provides, among other qualifications, that the men who serve the 
press must be "morally mature and nationally minded." Their conduct 
outside as well as during working hours is subject to state supervision. 
"Not every one has the right to write for the public," Dr. Goebbels 
explained, "for that right has to be earned through moral and patriotic 
qualifications." 3 He states further that freedom of thought and opinion 
must be curbed at the point where these conflict with the interests of the 
nation as a whole. As a result of the many and ever changing restric- 
tions the newspapers soon became too uniform and dull. The Ministry 
of Propaganda has persistently criticized this tendency, apparently 
desiring editors who would wholeheartedly support the party program 
but do so with versatility. But pervasive fear, kept alive by the examples. 

1 Riegel, O. W., Mobilizing for Chaos, p. 148, 1934. 
New York Times Mag., July 14, 1935, p. 8. 
* New York Times, Oct. 8, 1933. 


of colleagues in concentration camps who had had the temerity to 
criticize even mildly, has made for a cautiousness that breeds dullness. 
Governmental censorship, by forbidding mention of many dramatic 
issues and incidents occurring both at home and abroad, drastically 
limits the editors' choice of interesting news. The vital conflict between 
the religious groups and the Nazis has not been described in the German 
press. Of course, the German press had never been fundamentally a 
news press in the sense in which American newspapers collect and make 
news and emphasize the reporter. It was an opinion press the agent 
of some party or group, a special-pleader and propagandist press. But, 
during the years of the Democracy, the many factions all achieved some 
expression in their newspapers. The totalitarian state continues the 
tradition of a propagandist press but eliminates all competitors. In 
dealing with foreign correspondents, censorship has not been official, but 
it has been effective. Dr. Goebbels lectures to the correspondents 
periodically on the rights and limitations of a correspondent who is the 
guest of another country. Sources of news are made inaccessible at 
crucial times. Press dispatches not favorable to the government may 
be delayed or garbled. In various ways the life of a critical correspondent 
may be made very uncomfortable, a technique perfected in Italy a decade 
earlier. German administration has not been subtle in dealing with the 
foreign press. Within the Nazi state, newspaper content is now almost 
completely controlled. Absolute freedom of the press never existed 
there, and that it has a right to exist is now denied. 

As we have seen, press freedom in Japan is limited to the discussion 
of persons but has wide latitude in such discussion because of the absence 
of strict libel laws, whereas in Germany the entire newspaper content is 
censored in the interests of the state. During the past year, even those 
newspaper critics dealing with the stage, literature, motion pictures, 
music and art have been gagged by the propaganda ministry. In 
France, there is in normal times very little interference by the state with 
newspaper content. However, as most papers are edited in the interests 
of a particular group, party, politician, economic organization or other 
special interest, there is an effective censorship by those who own or 
subsidize the particular paper. Although these refracting media provide 
a wealth of conflicting opinion, it is sometimes difficult to get reliable 
information on crucial news events. With the exception of the five years 
of strict governmental censorship during the World War, this freedom 
for conflicting propagandas has been permitted since the press law of 
1881. This law provided that: 

Every journal must have a director who is a French citizen in full enjoyment 
of his civil rights. Every publication must bear the name and address of the 
printer. It is not necessary that articles be signed, as they usually are; but at 


the time of publication of each issue, two copies signed by the director must be 
delivered to a court of the first instance. As to individual responsibility the 
director of a paper is obliged to print a reply of any person whom he has named 
or designated in his paper. Furthermore, if a libelous statement is printed, both 
the director and the author of the article can be brought before a correctional 
court. Journals published in foreign countries and those printed in France in a 
foreign language are subject to police control. 1 

French papers have great liberty to attack the government, parties 
and persons. This freedom is cherished. On the other hand, there is 
little sense of responsibility for a complete and thorough presentation of 
the news. The French press with its avowed special pleading probably 
reinforces the prejudices of its readers. Just how influential it is in 
modifying opinions is a subject of debate among journalists. But there 
exists a wide range of freedom. Minorities are often permitted expression 
under conditions that would be permitted nowhere else in the world. 
This freedom is usually carried over into dealings with foreign corre- 
spondents, although an incidental and not very effective censorship of 
outgoing telegraph messages is applied occasionally by the Ministry of 
the Interior when the national interest is thought to be at stake. Some- 
times particular prejudices against individuals find expression, as in 
forbidding entry to France to W. R. Hearst during several years. And 
officious individual bureaucrats do sometimes play with foreign corre- 
spondents, deleting and delaying telegrams and annoying them in various 

Of the great powers, Japan, Germany, Italy and Russia have an 
avowed censorship of the press, England and France a limited, indirect 
government censorship; but the United States has so far resisted such 
limitation. This freedom is a product not only of our history, of the 
development and defense of the idea from the first constitutional amend- 
ment onward, but also of our form of government. Under parliamentary 
governments, the heads of state have the greater reason to desire restric- 
tion of press comment since they are subject to recall, but our elected 
officials have time, within the limits of their terms in office, to justify and 
explain their positions. 2 Hence, in normal times the newspaper in the 
United States is restricted only by the laws of libel and obscenity and 
various associated legal limitations. The courts have consistently main- 
tained this press freedom from legal censorship in the many cases of 
attempted invasion of that right. One of the most recent attempts, that 
of the late Senator Long to tax the opposition papers of Louisiana into 
submission, was stopped by the Supreme Court. American press history 

1 Buell, R. L., Contemporary French Politics, p. 291, 1920. Quoted by permission 
of D. Appleton-Century Company, Inc. 

1 Krock, A., "The Press and Government/' Ann. Am. Acad. Pol Soc. Sci. t 180: 163. 


contains many incidents of attempted restriction in the various states. 
The first "case from which the struggle for press freedom in the United 
States is usually traced is the famous Zenger trial, which occurred in New 
York in 1733, two generations before the revolution. After the infamous 
restrictive episode of the Federalists' rule and the passage of the First 
Amendment, the principle of press freedom was established. Thomas 
Jefferson, ardent champion of the newspaper, declared that "our liberty 
depends on the freedom of the press and that cannot be limited without 
being lost." Thus far, that freedom has been legally invaded only in 
time of war. Informally, however, such freedom has been denied to 
various groups on many occasions. In the period of agitation during the 
30 years preceding the Civil War the printing establishments of Aboli- 
tionists were in many instances destroyed by mobs. In the later years 
of this period the Postmaster General was forbidding Abolitionists the 
use of the mails, although he had no legal basis on which to do so. During 
the Civil War, many printing establishments were destroyed by mobs, 
sometimes by soldiers. Over thirty newspapers were suspended under 
temporary legislation. During the World War, the restrictions were 
used to decimate the ranks of the foreign language and immigrant press. 1 
Censorship of the press under special legislation was also instituted in 
the interests of the conduct of the war. Military censorship is usually 
justified on the basis that it prevents the transmission of important 
information to the enemy and that such press censorship prevents dis- 
couragement at home and at the front. Under the conditions of modern 
communication such assertions are of doubtful truth. In a brilliant 
discussion of the limitations of military censorship, L. M. Salmon 2 has 
noted the following points: (1) The lack of consistent policy as to stand- 
ards of censorship caused the Allies to censor so variously that almost 
everything got through accounts of defeats deleted by some were 
reported by others. (2) The means of communication are now so many 
and their content so enormous that the organization of censorship will 
be cumbersome and leaks will be inevitable. (3) An ordinarily free press 
will soon be at odds with the censors and will attempt in every way to 
circumvent them. (4) Censorship arouses suspicion among the troops 
and adversely affects the general morale at home. (5) Deceit, conceal- 
ment and evasion have deleterious effects on the morale of the censors 
and administrative officers themselves. (6) Censorship is essentially 
negative and unproductive, and the deletions are in part supplanted by 
crops of wild rumors. News vendors grasp at straws. (7) Suppression 
of news prevents desirable criticism of official incompetency, inefficiency 

1 See Park, R. E., The Immigrant Press and Its Control, 1922. 
* Salmon, L. M., The Newspaper and Authority, 1923. These statements are a 
summary of Chap. 5. 


and stupidity. (8) Censorship will inevitably be prolonged after the end 
of hostilities. In France, censorship, in spite of numerous government 
promises, was continued until after the Peace Conference. (9) The 
ability in circumventing censorship that the press developed during the 
World War indicates the futility of such suppression in the modern world. 
(10) Censorship will inevitably be linked with propaganda which becomes 
more and more irresponsible as it is protected. (11) An intelligent public 
opinion cannot be created under such conditions. Censorship is inef- 
fective in preventing the transmission of military information, its 
ostensible purpose, but it does permit political manipulation which is 
undesirable from the viewpoint of the general national interest. And 
although usually defended in general theory, military censorship in its 
application in the modern state inevitably arouses opposition because 
these discrepancies become obvious. 

Denial of freedom of printing has been informally applied, by mobs 
destroying the output, wrecking the establishments and intimidating the 
editors of various papers and journals published by reform groups, racial 
groups, labor groups, suffragettes, municipal factions and others. Large 
publics do not display tolerance when they feel endangered or outraged. 
It requires a mature, liberal wisdom to understand that an obnoxious 
opinion is less dangerous to public welfare than its arbitrary suppression. 
The chief extralegal limitation on the newspaper has been the policy of 
u- owners and advertisers. The general or specific interests of these 
have lea GO the most usual American types of suppression and distortion 
of news. The record of most of the American newspapers is especially 
bad in the censoring of news of labor conflicts, strikes and attendant 
private and governmental violence, and the like. 1 

During the past three years the question of the relation of the national 
government to press freedom has arisen once more. This issue has 
appeared owing to the attempt to develop a newspaper code under the 
National Recovery Administration, to the propaganda efforts of govern- 
ment bureaus, resulting occasionally in clashes with Washington corre- 
spondents, and to presidential criticism of the political columnists and 
commentators. In the early days of the NRA most newspapers urged 
the acceptance of codes by the various businesses. When their own 
newspaper code was taken to Washington, it was found to be so written 
as to permit the newspaper publishers to escape most of the obligations 
they were so actively recommending to other businesses. A code written 
by government representatives was not acceptable to the newspapers. 
It was at that time that a large part of the press suddenly discovered 

1 The newspaper treatment of a Pittsburgh strike is described in The Steel Strike 
of 1919, Interchurch World Movement, Commission of Inquiry, 1920. See also 
Beldes, G,, Freedom of the Press, Chaps. 4, 5, 6, 1935. 


that freedom of the press was endangered. Distinguished publishers 
hastened to a ceremonial laudation of the heroic Peter Zenger who, 200 
years before, had defied the Tories. A minority of publishers repudiated 
this outcry as hypocrisy. They were unable to see how the wage, age 
and hour requirements of the NRA code menaced press freedom. The 
reply was that an unreasonable increase of the cost of production menaced 
the existence of many papers, just as excessive taxation would ruinously 
hamper them. A compromise code was finally accepted which contained 
a section declaring that the publishers did not waive any constitutional 
rights to freedom of the press. President Roosevelt in accepting the code 
wrote, "The recitation of the freedom of the press clause in the code has 
no more place here than would the recitation of the whole Constitution 
or of the Ten Commandments." 1 

With the accession to power of the Democratic administration in 
1932 the press relations of government bureaus were reorganized. Scores 
of new publicity agents were appointed to the various departments. 
These appointees, usually former newspaper men, prepared handouts, 
decided what departmental people should be interviewed and often were 
the only direct contact between the press and the department. 2 The 
very nature of this system of organization with the increased canalization 
of news made inevitable the charge of informal censorship and of the per- 
version, distortion and fabrication of newj^ 

The censorship issue is arising in another quarter. In the relation- 
ship between presidents and correspondents the chief executive has 
sometimes attempted to silence a particular correspondent by protesting 
to the publishers. This has been done throughout our national history. 
President Theodore Roosevelt was a notoriously violent protestor. In 
most cases the publisher has resisted the request, although sometimes, on 
proof of bad motives or false statement, a correspondent is removed. Of 
late years new types of correspondents, the commentator on public 
affairs, the interpreter and the columnist play an increasingly important 
role in winnowing out the important issues, explaining and interpreting 
political news. Some have a large following. Naturally the interpre- 
tations of these columnists are not free of their own particular prejudices, 
likes and dislikes. And they come in conflict with administrators. A 
political commentator recently reported, "The President has often indi- 
cated that, if he could have his way, these columnists would be barred 
from the press. His view is that they air their motives and prejudices, 
likes and dislikes and give the public a false view of what is going on. 
His objection covers the widest possible field from the writers of gossip 

1 Quoted, Seldes, op. cit., p. 303. 

* See discussion of governmental propaganda in Chap. XVII. 


columns to the most pedestrian of commentators." 1 No doubt this 
issue will soon receive public discussion. 

The press in the United States is free, more free than any other, 
from governmental control. It has enjoyed liberties without parallel. 
Informally, however, it has been censored many times and in many 
ways. The principal restrictions have been the interests of newspaper 
publishers and advertisers. We shall discuss those limitations elsewhere 
in commenting on the history of the development of the American 


An informal, extralegal censorship of books is always operative. As 
a rule the prevailing standards of a culture limit the expression of an 
author in so far as they are incorporated in his own standards, in his 
hopes for large sale and wide circulation and in the standards set up by 
his publisher. The publisher usually desires to avoid court action and 
knows the standards of his clientele. Through the nineteenth century 
the publisher was even more influential than he is today in determining 
the content of books. Not only were popular standards more integrated 
and uniform, but the publisher could, with especial clarity, discern the 
standards of the middle class which provided the bulk of readers. In 
England, the publishers, in conjunction with the managers of the great 
circulating libraries, were especially responsive to the public opinion of 
their readers. Inasmuch as most of the readers obtained their copies of 
books from the circulating libraries, the managers of these exercised an 
effective informal censorship for several generations. They lost their 
dominant position in this field during the first decade of this century. 2 
In America, the public libraries exercised a similar but much less effective 
censorship. The contemporary circulating libraries are likewise guided 
by the tastes of their readers, but, as tastes have become extremely 
varied, there is little informal censorship by these organizations. They 
are limited only by the applications of existing laws. And these have 
not been vigorously enforced during the past fifteen years in the United 
States. Our authors have publicly explored the varieties of amorous 
experience and the deviations of sexual and psychological behavior. 
Their work has been purveyed in the crudest of cheap pulp magazines 
and in the most expensive privately printed erotica. With the exception 
of the inhabitants of limited geographic areas we are largely free from 
the censor's ban at the present time. 

1 Krock, A., New York Times, Apr. 26. 1936. 

1 Ernst, M. L., and Seagle, W., To the Pure, Chap. 5, 1929. 


After the development of printing and the pamphleteering activities 
of the Reformation, formal censorship was developed by the church 
which organized its lis ot prohibited books. The states of the Western 
world likewise condemned, burned and forbade the publication of books 
thought to be deleterious to their interests. Gradually through the 
eighteenth and nineteenth cen uries greater freedom of expression was 
achieved, first on religious, tnen on political and finally on moral subjects. 
After the World War the auohoritarian states, Communist, Fascist and 
Nazi, reversed the trend within tiieir borders and rigorously censored 
political and ethical utterances. The Nazi state has been especially 
assiduous in publicly burning books on communism, books favorable to 
or written by Jews and books, not only of erotic but also of scientific 
vintage, dealing with sexual behavior, as well as in controlling the 
projected publication of such becks. Laws limiting freedom of expression 
are now very strict in Germany. 

Censorship in the United Spates has been primarily concerned with 
moral questions. Formal ceneoi^hip has been applied by local ordi- 
nances, state laws and some Federal legislation. Boston has been most 
notorious in local regulation of bookselling. Most of the states have 
laws on obscenity and blasphemy which have been used from time to 
time in prosecuting book publishers and sellers. As the principle of 
freedom of the press is recognized in the Federal Constitution, as well as 
in the constitutions of the various states, most censorship of books has 
been indirect. There was no legal basis for such censorship in the 
eighteenth and early nineteenth century. The short-lived Alien and 
Sedition Act of 1798 passed by the Federalists, ostensibly to check French 
propaganda in the United States but actually to serve as a weapon 
against the Republicans, was used to censor a number of newspapers, 
periodicals and books. Jefferson, when he became president, pardoned 
all those punished or prosecuted under this law. The earliest statutes 
on obscene publication were passed in Vermont, 1821; Connecticut, 1834, 
and Massachusetts, 1835. l The Postmaster General may exercise a 
censorship by his power to exclude materials from the mails. For two 
decades before the Civil War it was customary to exclude Abolitionist 
propaganda from the mails to the South. During the Civil War, exclu- 
sion of various materials from the mails was justified as an emergency 
measure. Afterward, Congress granted authority for such censorship by 
a, series of acts in 1865. Adequate legal basis for prosecution and the 
suppression of publications by the Post Office was finally provided by 
the so-called "Comstock Law" of 1873. It declared, in part, that 
" every obscene, lewd, or lascivious, and every filthy book, painting, 

1 Lasswell, H. D., "Censorship," Ency. Soc. $ci., 3: 290-294. 


picture, paper, letter, writing or print, or other publication of an indecent 
character . . . and every article or thing designed for ... preventing 
conception or producing abortion ... or the giving of information 
directly or indirectly, where or how or from whom or by what means 
any of these articles can be obtained, is a crime/' 1 Under this law, 
Anthony Comstock, as a special officer of the Post Office department 
from 1873 to 1915, was instrumental in "bringing 3,648 prosecutions 
and he obtained 2,682 convictions. He secured the destruction of 50 
tons of books, over 28,000 pounds of stereotype plates, almost 17,000 
photographic negatives, and 3,984,063 photographs." 2 The Supreme 
Court declared this act to be, not an invasion of the principle of freedom 
of the press, but a necessary regulation in the interest of public morals. 
In interpreting this act, the lower courts have shown an amazing variety 
of definitions of the "obscene, lewd and lascivious." Of late years, the 
number of prosecutions has been very small. 

The national censorship of books has also been accomplished through 
forbidding entrance and importation of books considered obscene. There 
has been some regulation since the Tariff Act of 1842. Customs agents 
have, until recently, acted as judges of the obscene, under standards set 
up by numerous court decisions. Under the Tariff Act of 1930, such 
literary censorship was taken away from the customs agents and put in 
the hands of the United States district courts. It was believed that this 
change would liberalize the administration of the law, as the Customs 
Division had built up a bibliography of almost 800 forbidden books. It 
was thought that customs officers would be somewhat more hesitant to 
censor if their rejections had to be defended in court. 

Of late years, as even the more extreme reformers now realize, the 
principal result of attempted censorship of books has been widespread 
publicity and the calling of popular attention to the forbidden book. 
Hence, some decidedly third-rate books have been widely read. It is 
often maintained that censorship of books, however administered, is 
dangerous as an opening wedge for invasion of the general principle of 
free speech. Further, there are great differences of opinion as to the 
effects of reading even avowed pornography. Heywood Broun, main- 
taining that sheer nastiness is feeble stuff and that "indecency is a tiny 
kingdom and one tour covers it," declares that one road to purity lies 
in making the not particularly grand tour and being done with it. 8 
Jimmy Walker, as state senator, in objecting to a proposed censorship 
law once asked his associates, "Did you ever know a woman who was 
ruined by a book?" 

1 Whipple, L., The Story of Civil Liberty in the United States, p. 285, 1927. 
* Odegard, P., The American Public Mind, p. 263, 1930. 
Broun, H., and Leech, M., Anthony Comftock, p. 269, 1927. 


The question also arises whether or not censorship should be deter- 
mined by the standards desirable for the guidance of children, even if 
there existed an adequate psychological understanding of the influences 
of each of the media of communication upon thought and behavior. 


As the organized church, preoccupied with doctrine and faith, sought 
to censor the heretic and a threatened state burned the treasonable books 
and repressed the traitor, so modern democracies turned to the restric- 
tion of what the good citizens considered their principal dangers. These 
were of a personal rather than an institutional character. Above all, a 
common denominator of personal fears in modern democracies has 
furnished stimuli to sexual imagery or behavior. In America, the confu- 
sion resulting from an allegiance to abstract liberty in the political sphere 
and a widespread desire to censor personal morality has become chronic. 
Books, plays, pictures, statuary and various art works have from time 
to time been subjected to the formal and legal as well as informal censor- 
ship by organized minorities supported by sizable publics. Minorities 
have frequently demanded increased legal censorship. The larger publics 
have fluctuated between dislike of the censorship process and an inter- 
mittent angry resentment at certain of the products of communication 
which have come to the local community from the extracommunity 
world of book publishers, playwrights, artists and motion-picture 

This confusion is most clearly illustrated in the history of the censor- 
ship of motion pictures in the United States. The motion pictures have 
appealed to the masses of people, children and adults, male and female, 
the ignorant and the learned. Although the occasional picture has 
been sophisticated, artistic or seriously propagandistic in the political 
and economic fields, the content of the vast majority have been largely 
dramatic action, individual conflict, the purveying of feminine nudity to 
the provinces, popular musical entertainment and the personal charac- 
teristics of stars. Such a content has from time to time provided a field 
day for organized censorship groups, recruited from reform organizations, 
worried parents and religious orders. Such censorship has been primarily 
concerned with sexual behavior, the nudity of females and certain types 
of criminal behavior. On these subjects, motion-picture content has been 
determined by a kind of tentative regulation, advancing and retreating 
before popular opinion. Every few years since the beginning of the 
motion picture there have been periods of cleansing induced by the 
organized attacks of censors. In this process, state censorship has been 
of relatively little importance, but informal pressures have been enor- 


mously significant. Naturally the widespread motion-picture business 
has responded very quickly to any popular criticism. 

A brief sketch of the periods of agitation for motion-picture censor- 
ship would begin with the incident in 1907 when, after the showing of a 
melodramatic film called The Great Automobile Robbery an actual auto- 
mobile theft occurred which was associated with the picture. 1 Numerous 
articles on the relation between the pictures and crime appeared, and 
discussion groups demanded state censorship. In 1909, the mayor closed 
the motion-picture theatres of New York City. A citizens' committee 
was formed to inspect films before they were released. This organi- 
zation, the National Board of Censorship, was supported by the voluntary 
contributions of various organizations until 1914. 2 It was then decided 
to accept fees from the motion-picture producers for reviewing the films, 
and the name was changed to the National Board of Review. It placed 
at the disposal of women 's clubs and other organizations advance infor- 
mation about the pictures and evaluated and classified film content in a 
weekly bulletin. The National Board of Review has frequently been 
charged with creating a popular impression that it is a governmental 
body with official status, whereas it is actually a citizens' organization 
subsidized by the producers. In 1915, the way was cleared for legal 
censorship when the Supreme Court decided that the motion pictures 
differed from all other forms of communication. The films could be 
censored in advance of public showing, for they were viewed in this 
decision not as an art form communicating ideas but as an industry. 
The products of that industry, like foods or drugs or other products for 
general consumption, might therefore be inspected before being offered 
to the public, whereas means of communication such as the press, art 
forms and drama must, under constitutional amendment, be regulated 
only by prosecution after violation of the laws. In seven states, New 
York, Kansas, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida, 
censorship systems were established within a few years after this decision. 
But official state-censorship legislation has never been successfully advo- 
cated since that time. Although, by 1921, censorship bills had been 
presented in thirty-six additional states, none of them has ever passed. 
Strong and well-organized minorities have persistently agitated for 

1 Material on the incidents in the history of motion-picture censorship in the 
United States will be found in: Ann. Am. Acad. Pol. Soc. Sri., November, 1926; 
Lewis, H. T., The Motion Picture Industry, Chap. 12, 1933; Beman, L. T., Censorship 
of the Theatre and Moving Pictures, 1931; Seabury, W. M., Public and the Motion 
Picture Industry, pp. 143-159, 1926. 

3 The Peoples 1 Institute of New York, a citizens' bureau for social research, was 
the principal contributor. When the financial burden on this organization became 
too heavy, fees were accepted from producers at the rate of $3.50 per reel until 1920 
and $6.50 per reel from 1920 to the present. 


municipal, state and national censorship, but majority opinion has 
apparently been reluctant to permit governmental regulation of this 
favorite form of commercial recreation. 

Widespread popular support has been given to reform and religious 
groups, when, during four periods since 1912, these organizations have 
exercised a powerful informal censorship of movie themes by agitation and 
the threat of legislative action. Municipal censorship boards have been 
created in more than thirty cities since 1915. l For the most part 
these city boards have operated with inconsistent and ill-defined rules, 
untrained personnel and inadequate budgets. They have been relatively 
ineffective in achieving any results other than deleting incidental items of 
obscenity, profanity and nudity. Agitation for national censorship legis- 
lation has welled up from time to time. Certain restrictions already exist 
under national laws, such as the prohibitions on the transportation of 
obscene or lascivious books or pictures in interstate commerce. These 
regulations have sometimes been applied. During the agitation by 
reformers in 1913 when prize-fight pictures were especially opposed, such 
films were forbidden interstate transportation. Congress has passed no 
general censorship legislation, although at three periods there has been 
extensive agitation for Federal laws. From 1913 to 1915 there was a 
growing resentment among reform organizations, directed at the motion 
pictures featuring crime, violence and the prize-fight pictures. These 
groups sponsored the Hughes Bill of 1915, which provided for a Federal 
motion-picture commission of five members who should direct the 
censoring and licensing of all films before they were admitted to interstate 
commerce. This bill was debated at some length but finally defeated. 
However, the protests, agitation and discussion resulted in the voluntary 
deletion of the more objectionable themes by the producers. By 1921 the 
protests of reform groups, who were this time primarily objecting to the 
"vamp," had once more become vociferous. The larger motion-picture 
producers organized the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of 
America and in 1922 elected Mr. Will Hays as the much publicized 
"movie czar." A lull in hostilities ensued, especially due to the fact that 
Mr. Hays appointed a committee composed of most of the prominent 
opponents of the movies to serve as an advisory board on motion-picture 
content. But most of these shortly withdrew in disgust at their futility, 
although in the meantime the producers had voluntarily eliminated 
most of the objectionable features. Then the reform groups, clamoring 
for national legislation, supported the Upshaw Bill which provided for a 
commission of seven members with broad powers to (1) preview and 
license films, (2) examine and censor scenarios and (3) supervise produc- 
tion. In 1925, the idea of Federal censorship was given tie most thor- 

1 Ann. Am* Acad. Pol. Soc. Sci., op. cit., p. 172. 


ough political and public discussion it has ever received. The bill was 
defeated. When, in 1934, the church-organized Legion of Decency 
claiming twelve million members was giving the worried producers the 
worst fright of their harried lives, there was less unanimity among the 
reformers as to the desirability of national censorship. Not only were 
most of the church and reform groups impressed with the ineffectiveness of 
state censorship as it had been applied during the preceding twenty years, 
but some of them, existing in the midst of the political and economic 
turmoil of that year, had glimpsed something of the political implications 
of a national censorship board. The chastened producers mended their 
ways, and the reform organizations, impressed with the effectiveness of 
informal censorship and boycott, subsided from their agitation. 

No governmental censorship body in America ever achieved anything 
other than the deletion of a few items. It could not effectively censor 
the underlying theme. All such bodies were governed by laws, most 
sections of which were so general as to leave the standards of censorship 
in the hands of the board or commission which, in the long run, usually 
succeeded in pleasing no one. For example, the Kansas law of 1917 
on which the laws of most other states were based, cited the following 
standards for the censorship board of that time : 

A. Pictures should be clean and wholesome and all features that tend to 
debase morals or influence the mind to improper conduct should be eliminated. 

B. Ridicule of any religious sect or peculiar characteristics or any race of 
people will not be approved. 

C. Evil suggestions in the dress of comedy characters will be eliminated. 

D. Infidelity of marriage ties will be eliminated. 

E. Loose conduct between men and women, cigarette smoking by women 
will be eliminated and wherever possible, bar-room scenes and social drinking. 

F. A display of nude human figures eliminated. 

G. Crimes and criminal methods such as give instruction in crime through 
suggestion omitted or abbreviated. 

H. Prolonged and passionate love scenes when suggestive of immorality shall 
be eliminated. 

I. Scenes of houses of ill fame, road houses, and immoral dance halls. 
J. The theme of white slavery or allurement or betrayal of innocence will be 

The difficulty of determining satisfactory standards for censorship 
was rather generally admitted after a few years' experience with such 
laws. In January, 1925, the National Committee for Better Films 
stated, "It [censorship] has failed to recognize and dare not recognize, 
because it is based on the theory that there are final, unchanging, uni- 
versal standards of good and evil and of good and evil influences, that 
fundamental in the whole question of the motion picture is a legitimate 



and inevitable difference of opinion between sections, communities, 
groups apd individuals." Moreover, the limited field of censored topics 
is quite apparent when one examines the records of state censorship 
boards. The Division of Motion Pictures of the New York Department 
of Education (the censorship board in that state) examined 903 feature 
films and 1394 shorts during the period Jan. 1, 1932, to Mar. 31, 1933. 
Of the feature films they passed 61.5 per cent, deleted something from 
35.9 per cent and rejected 2.6 per cent. The rejections were almost all 
foreign films. Of the deletions the general categories were sex (44 per 
cent), crime (16 per cent), violence (29 per cent), government (5 per cent) 
and religion (3 per cent). The following table provides some details 
of the deletions made by this board. 




Censorship categories 

Applied in 
connection with 
"fe.'iture" films 

Applied in 
connection with 






Sex, general 
































lie ward 





United States 



Unclassified ... 







1 Report of the National Council on Freedom from Censorship, Introduction, 1933. Quoted by per- 
mission of the National Council on Freedom from Censorship. 

The failure of state censorship is implicit in this record of deletions. 
Not only is it entirely negative, but such censorship can be applied only 
to the more obvious, simple and unsubtle elements of a picture. To be 


sure, the bulk of motion pictures deals with the simpler human dramas, 
situations and appetites. Mr. Will Hays has estimated that only 3 
per cent of the audiences go to the theater for originality, ideas and 
literature. However, the censor deals only with the most obvious of 
the simpler elements of the film and not with underlying themes, motives 
and the entire scale of values involved in the picture. Recently, the 
more rabid reform groups are beginning to understand that even when 
judged by their scale of values the rejections and deletions of the state 
censor are scarcely worth taking out, in comparison with what remains 
in the picture. 

For thirty years the problem of control of the motion pictures has been 
debated. Minority groups have demanded censorship for the protection 
of those whom they judged incapable, especially the children and youth. 
The themes especially decried have been crime, violence and sex. Until 
recently there were no factual surveys of the content of the films. 1 A 
decade ago it was stated that: 

Evil in the movie plots is typified usually by sex. If you will keep track of 
the scenes you are shown in the movie plays you will find that two-thirds of 
them are theoretically lewd. Were the heroine involved a human being whose 
emotions and attitudes were not dictated by a moralistic plot, these scenes would 
be downright " obscene." The movies concerning themselves almost entirely 
with the triumph of morality have revealed to the world an orgie of kissings, 
huggings and attempted rapes, the like of which has never been known in any 
art or semi-art of any other civilization. The movie producers observe only 
one law. This is the law of the Virtuous Finish. The average movie plot is 
based on the vicissitudes of Virginity. The public discussion of female virginity, 
which preoccupies the moralist, is an intensely more sexual stimulus than the 
public discussion of prostitution or sexual promiscuity. Write your own psycho- 
logical caption. If I were to draw a cartoon of the movie heroine, I would draw 
a picture of a pretty girl with her head buried in the ground offering the rest 
of her person as the battlefield of drama. 2 

Although this was disdainfully written by a cynical novelist, it is 
apparent that stern moralists were also convinced of the truth of such 
assertions. Violence and crime were found objectionably present in 
cycles of Western, comedy, terror, war and gangster films. In the 
desire to censor and limit such a content, several fundamental questions 
were seldom adequately considered. (1) To what extent does motion- 
picture content differ from the prevailing folkways and mores of our 
culture at the present time? (2) Wherein does motion-picture content 

1 See Dale, E., The Content of Motion Pictures, 1934, and additional discussion and 
references in Chap. XX. 

1 Written by Ben Hecht, quoted by Merriam, Mrs. C. E., Ed. Screen, 3: 190. 
Permission to quote granted. 


differ from that of other media of communication and from objective life 
situations . to which the individual ordinarily has access? (3) Are the 
fields of behavior to which objection is raised the most vital in contempo- 
rary life? May not the perversions of economic reality and, indeed, of 
the scales of values in general, as portrayed by the motion pictures, have 
as profound an effect as incidents of violence or sexual behavior? (4) 
Is it possible to define the meanings of immorality, indecency and obscen- 
ity in a way sufficiently objective to provide a legal basis for censorship? 
(5) To what extent do the patterns of behavior provided in the motion 
picture motivate similar behavior on the part of those who view them? 
It is quite obvious that these questions could be but partly answered by 
using whatever methods and techniques of investigation social psy- 
chology and the various sciences of behavior have developed. We 
shall consider elsewhere the existing studies on motion-picture content 
and effect. 1 The censor has usually not even posed these questions. 
He has assumed the answers. 

Though legal censorship is neither effective nor desirable, certain 
types of control of the motion-picture industry in the public interest 
would appear to be indicated. Legal censorship creates more problems 
than it solves, imposes the standards of a group upon the community and 
state and nation and may stifle presentation of divergent economic and 
political ideas. However, there are some types of regulation that would 
free rather than restrain the expression of opinion of the community 
and organized publics. Prohibition of block booking and blind booking 
would make possible a range of choice on what pictures were exhibited 
in the community. In the development of the industry the producers 
found it profitable to compel exhibitors to contract for large blocks of 
pictures. These were rented by exhibitors who not only had never seen 
the films but had often contracted for them long before they were made. 
Although the Motion Picture Code permitted a return of 10 per cent of 
the features, the exhibitor was so restricted that this quota was largely 
meaningless. A bill was introduced into the House of Representatives 
in 1935 to forbid block booking. Such legislation is bitterly opposed 
by the motion-picture industry. 

The regulation of the attendance of various age groups at motion- 
picture performances has frequently been urged. As the pictures are a 
major leisure-time activity of all age groups, the various parts of their 
diversified content are not equally suitable for all groups. Certain 
adults may be hardened to observation of sexual or violent behavior 
that would shock the adolescent, even if it did not lead to attempts at 
similar behavior. Such materials might provide a stimulating or 
compensatory vicarious experience for a large portion of the adult group 
and be a desirably integrating factor in their life experiences. The same 

1 Chapter XX. 


materials might be distasteful to, or ignored or not understood by small 
children. In the case of the adolescent they might be an addition to 
the stress and strain of a period of sexual adjustment. Furthermore, 
an adult's impression is obtained from an understanding of the picture 
as a whole with its underlying theme, and a quite different impression is 
gained from the parts of the picture that the small child understands. A 
solution for this difference of response has been thought by many to lie 
in providing certain regular times each week for the showing of pictures 
suitable for small children, for family audiences of adults and children 
or for adults. Such regulation of attendance, if administered on the basis 
of a limited and narrowly prejudiced scale of values of what would be 
"good for" the child, might be more undesirable than subjecting him to 
unsuitable impressions. However, wisely administered in terms of the 
best social psychological knowledge of our time, such regulation of 
attendance could be in the public interest. Such regulation, likewise, 
is bitterly opposed by the motion-picture industry. 

Another method of control is the boycott and the informal pressures 
upon producers. This has been used, not only on a national scale by the 
Legion of Decency in 1934, but in limited areas and against local theaters 
from time to time. Although the programs of such pressure groups will 
inevitably be narrowly conceived, they do at least inform the producers 
of points at which large publics have been outraged. However, such 
organization is possible only with disciplined groups and homogeneous 

If, as it is usually conceived in the United States, the control of the 
motion picture is to be fundamentally in the interests of children and 
youth, a constructive program will utilize all the existing agencies of 
instruction to inculcate standards and scales of values on the basis of 
which youth may judge the picture. The ultimately effective censor is 
in the individual and not in legal restrictions. Additional interest on 
the part of parents in the selection and classification of pictures has led 
to the establishment, during the past few years, of eleven bureaus main- 
taining offices at Hollywood for this purpose. Most of these are main- 
tained by women's organizations. To be sure, these organizations serve 
a selected and limited clientele of middle-class parents at the present 
time, but the principle might be extended. The schools could increas- 
ingly advise and select. And the community may regulate the attend- 
ance of various age groups. The motion pictures are an important 
part of our national life and culture. They are a fundamental means ot 
communication. They may become an important art form. Expression 
in this medium of communication should not be limited by any type of 
legal censorship or the standards of any special group or class; but access 
to the products of this industry might wisely be limited in the public 


We have traced some of the essential elements in the authoritarian 
position and in that of the classic liberal and have noted fields in which 
the conflict between them was especially bitter. Classic liberalism, 
narrowly conceived in terms of " freedom from/' inevitably rejected 
the principle of censorship, whereas authority embraced it, both for 
punitive and restrictive purposes. We have noted the pervasiveness of 
an informal censorship based upon individual psychological processes 
and the standards of the mores. We have sketched the formal applica- 
tions of censorship in several fields. Both the censors and the opponents 
of censorship have frequently been motivated by deep convictions, stub- 
bornly maintained and emotionally defended. However, social psycho- 
logical knowledge as to the actual effects of the various media of 
communication upon individuals of various age, sex and knowledge groups 
is very imperfect. The same stimulus may have very different effects 
upon the mental life and behavior at different times and under various 
conditions. A recent autobiographical account of the experiences of 
internees in France during the World War reports on the growing vivid- 
ness of amorous imagery as stimulated by reading books, which ordinarily 
had not been so exciting but after prolonged imprisonment were almost 
unendurably vivid. 1 Censorship has been based upon folk beliefs 
rather than upon data provided by social science. 

In conclusion we may note one further problem. Latterly, it has 
been argued that a liberalism, conceived in terms of " freedom for" the 
development of individuals and groups toward the limits of their capaci- 
ties, might require restrictions on communication in the public interest. 
An increasing minority advocates extended governmental censorship 
in the public interest, since it is more aware of the psychological limita- 
tions of the individual, his inability adequately to classify and evaluate 
the thronging stimuli of modern communication and the distortion and 
fabrication of news at its source through controlled channels of press 
and radio and motion picture. At the same time, this minority rejects 
the contemporary applications of censorship in the authoritarian states 
of Europe. And it is unable to agree on definitions of the public interest. 
But it usually agrees on repudiating the intrusions of business interests 
into the media of communication, the activities of the ubiquitous adver- 
tiser and of the business pressure groups. They demand that these be 
controlled by government but at the same time contend that freedom 
from any special political censorship should be maintained. But the 
principle of liberty of communication is not readily divisible into sectors. 
Restriction has a way of growing, and regulations proliferate. These 
modern liberals espouse a dangerous course. 

1 Kuncz, A,, Black Monastery, pp. 183 #, 1934. 


In modern complex societies there is a large and growing number of 
organized associations and interest groups. These groups are developed 
about a wide variety of special interests. In the simpler societies there 
are fewer associations, with each association performing a much wider 
range of functions. In the folk society there are the family, clan, 
age and sex groups, but not the variety of political, economic, vocational 
and avocational interest groups. In the simpler organization of the 
folk societies a large proportion of the individual's interests, time and 
personal functioning was involved in each of the great associations. In 
the highly diversified interest groups of contemporary society only a 
small proportion of the individual's interests and time is involved in 
each of the numerous groups of which he is a member. 1 Another funda- 
mental distinction may be made on the basis of the processes of associa- 
tion in the various groups. In the associations of the simpler societies 
interaction occurs primarily in face-to-face relations. Hence, opinion is 
formed on the basis of discussion, gossip, personal influences and the 
variety of stimuli provided in such contact. Most of the activities of 
the interest groups of the great society are carried on through the indirect 
contacts of writing, publications, pictures, radio and the other methods 
of secondary communication. Publics of various types emerge. 

In the social sciences, preoccupation with groups is a central interest. 
Any number of individuals, from two to scores of millions, compose a 
group, and the nature of the group association varies infinitely. Any 
number of people having social relationships compose a group. Groups 
have been classified in terms of numbers of members, the way in which 
they are united, the purpose of the group, and the like. Types of 
classification are innumerable, as they depend upon the aspect of associ- 
ation that the classifier wishes to emphasize. Sociologists have discussed 
primary and secondary groups, in- and out-groups, horizontal and 
vertical, voluntary and involuntary, institutional, permanent and imper- 
manent, kinship, ideological, conflict and cooperative, open and closed, 
class and caste, instinctive and rational, interest and locality groups, and 
1 Prof. F. H. Allport, in his volume Institutional Behavior, has used the terms 
"total inclusion" groups and "partial inclusion" groups, so as to distinguish the 
proportion of the personality involved in each. He concludes that modern society 
undesirably dissociates personality. 



many others. Groups have been classified from the most intimate 
family, play and neighborhood groups to the least intimate international, 
race, age and sex groups. 1 Today there is more organization of groups 
at all levels than has been true in the past. New bases of interest emerge, 
as in the case of the organization of families' with children versus childless 
families. Organizations of each type are often somewhat opposed on 
issues of taxation, regulation of amusement, community order, and the 
like. 2 Although the opinion process obviously operates in all groups, we 
will concern ourselves with the classifications of the major interest groups 
of the great society. 

In a sense, all groups are interest groups. But the interest may be 
transient and the association fleeting. In a narrower sense, interest 
groups are those organized round about some enduring interest. " When 
a number of men unite for the defense, maintenance, or enhancement of 
any more or less enduring position or advantage which they possess alike 
or in common, the term interest is applied both to the group so united 
and the cause which unites them." 3 Thus, in the fundamental divisions 
of society there are sex groups, age groups, political groups, economic 
groups, class groups, race groups, and the like. These may be considered 
interest groups when they organize to provide some effective means for 
the attainment of aims held in common by their memberships. Interest 
groups arise when women organize associations, when the aged join a 
Townscnd movement, when a political party organizes, when employers 
and employees, bondholders or the unemployed form associations, when 
a class organization appears with a more or less developed ideology or 
when a racial group develops an organization to face its foes or advance 
its status. Within such interest groups there arc habitual and similar 
modes of behavior on the part of their individual members. They have 
their organizations and means of communication. The passengers on a 
streetcar are a group. They become an interest group when they express 
a grievance to the conductor or to the company. When such an associ- 
ation is formed, the attention of both the membership and the outsiders 
is increasingly turned upon the common interests. 

As societies became larger, as their memberships were more widely 
distributed in space and as their cultures became more complex, the 
number of interest groups increased. As the modern state has assumed 
more functions in the lives of individuals, the number of organizations 
of sectors of its citizenship have increased. In modern political theory 

1 See classification in Bernard, L. L., Introduction to Social Psychology, pp. 418 jf., 

8 See Seldes, G., "The War Between the Parents and the Childless," Scribncr't, 
November, 1935. 

* Maclver, R. M., "Interests/' Ency. Soc. Sd. t 8: 144L 


there is a persistent dispute over the extent to which the state should be 
based on group interests or on general community interests. Meanwhile, 
the state has had to adjudicate conflicting interests. " With the increase 
in organization the conflict of interests takes new forms, and the problem 
of establishing harmony between them thrusts new tasks upon the 
state." 1 Since the emergence of Protestantism, ever new religious inter- 
est groups have been formed. In the economic field, thousands of new 
interest groups have been organized since the beginning of the nineteenth 
century. As divergent ideologies and values in the fields of ethics and 
in social relationships in general have been formulated, their proponents 
have organized many thousands of additional associations. Interest 
groups slowly increased in number in the fifteenth century and rapidly 
in the nineteenth century and have proliferated enormously during the 
past fifty years. 

All such groups influence opinion outside their own memberships. 
But it is often difficult to determine the importance of an interest group. 
Membership number is an inadequate criterion. Membership distri- 
bution, composition and intensity of interest are factors in ascribing 
weight. And all such groups have their spokesmen. In the welter of 
conflicting testimony today, it is often difficult to determine who really 
represents whom. The general public is frequently baffled. Perhaps 
they can distinguish between a statement by a soapbox economist and a 
statement by President Roosevelt; but they cannot always distinguish 
between two spokesmen, each of whom claims to represent a million 
followers. The failure to stress adequately the weight and extensiveness 
of influence makes possible the quoting of all kinds of statements as 
expressions of public opinion. But which publics? 


Interest groups and pressure groups are sometimes distinguished. 
"A pressure group is defined by its techniques, an interest group by its 
objectives."* However, this distinction is not consistently maintained 
in the literature of political and social science, and, as interest groups 
are also pressure groups, we shall use the terms interchangeably. There 
are many types of such groups, and they may be variously classified. 
The geographic and political area within which they operate may be 
used as one basis of classification. Groups operate internationally, 
nationally or within states, counties, regions, communities or other 
political subdivisions. For example, the League of Nations has listed 

1 Maclver, op. cit., p. 147. 

1 Maclver, R. M., "Social Pressures/' Ency. Soc. Sci., 12: 347. 


the international organizations. 1 Counting those listed in the various 
divisions according to interests, we find that the number of international 
organizations devoted to pacifism is 16; law and administration, 4; labor, 
63; education, 35; feminism, 9; sport and tourism, 32; humanitarianism, 
religion and morals, 89; economics and finance, 12; agriculture, 21; trade 
and industry, 32; communication and transit, 39; arts and sciences, 93; 
medicine and hygiene, 45; miscellaneous, international languages, pro- 
tection of nature, politics, library, etc., 48. Among these are such 
organizations as the International Christian Peace Fellowship, Women 's 
International League for Peace and Freedom, International Federation 
of Civil Servants, and so on, through the list of 574 internationally 
organized groups. These are formally organized. But there are inter- 
est groups, bound together by some common medium of communication, 
that are not formally organized. In Ayers's Directory of American 
Newspapers and Magazines, there are listed over 200 such groups that 
are not formally organized but that are served by one or more specialized 
publications. A bibliography on propaganda and promotional activities 
devotes sections to party groups, professional, labor, agrarian, ecclesi- 
astical, age and sex groups. 2 The classification will depend upon the 
purposes of the writer. 

We shall be concerned with interest groups that are most active in 
attempting to influence opinion outside their own memberships. Most 
interest groups perform many other functions. The technical societies 
and trade associations of the United States, without exception, are 
involved in publicity to influence various publics, but they engage in 
many other activities. In 1933, 301 such organizations, from the 
Abrasive Paper and Cloth Manufacturers Exchange to the World 
Calendar Association, engaged in some form of standardizing their 
products or activities. 3 Unfortunately, there is no comprehensive 
directory of interest groups in the United States, but we shall select data 
from a number of specialized directories and other sources. Such inter- 
est groups attempt to influence opinions of general publics, to reform or 
proselyte or to exert pressure on the opinions of legislators, adminis- 
trators and political executives. 

No one can say how many interest groups there are, nor do there 
exist exact data on their memberships. Fragments of information may 
be obtained from various sources. The World Almanac (1937 edition) 
lists 614 such groups. Of these, 166 have from 1 to 500 members; 51, 

1 Handbook of International Organizations, League of Nations, 1929; Supplement, 

1 Lasswell, H. D., Casey, R. D., and Smith, B. L., Propaganda and Promotional 
Activities, 1935. 

1 Standards Yearbook, 1933, Bureau of Standards Miscellaneous Publication, No. 


from 500 to 1000; 177, from 1000 to 5000; 61, from 5000 to 10,000; 41, 
from 10,000 to 20,000; 30, from 20,000 to 50,000; 24, from 50,000 to 
100,000; 16, from 100,000 to 200,000; 23, from 200,000 to 500,000; 10, 
from 500,000 to 1,000,000; 17, from 1,000,000 to 5,000,000; 5 groups have 
memberships over 5 million. 1 There are hundreds of other groups not 
listed in this compilation. Most of these interest groups are represented 
by part- or full-time publicity agents or propagandists, devoted to 
influencing public opinion. These agents have various titles. Among 
the simpler and most innocuous-appearing titles are those used in the 
various bureaus of the Federal government, where publicity men. are 
listed as principal specialists in information, senior experts in information, 
junior experts in information, head specialists in information, directors 
of information, special writers, and the like. 

Prof. Beard has classified the chief interest groups as economic, 
reform, professional and religious organizations. 2 In the first group are 
the numerous industrial, trade, farm and labor associations. The reform 
groups are quite varied in their interests. There are patriotic societies, 
women 's reform groups, governmental reform groups, prohibition organ- 
izations, and the like. Scores of professional groups scan the horizons of 
political action and of popular opinion to discover and change actions 
and beliefs inimical to their interests. Most of the Protestant churches 
maintain national organizations, some of which are powerful, such as the 
Board of Temperance, Prohibition, and Public Morals, or the Federal 
Council of Churches of Christ in America. And also there is the National 
Catholic Welfare Council. In addition to activities aimed at the 
influencing of opinion in general publics, many of these groups main- 
tain representatives at Washington to influence the opinions of and 
exert pressure upon governmental officials. E. P. Herring lists 462 
interest groups represented in Washington. 3 Of these, some of the 
larger and more important organizations are the Chamber of Commerce 
of the United States, National Association of Manufacturers, National 
Education Association, National League of Women Voters, American 
Legion, Board of Temperance, Prohibition, and Public Morals of the 
Methodist Church, National Grange, Federal Council of Churches, Anti- 
Saloon League, and the larger trade associations. The interest groups 
are represented by executives of quite varied backgrounds, training and 
abilities. A recently published volume gives brief biographical sketches 
of some 2700 executives, secretaries, managing directors and publicity 
men who represent 1372 organizations maintaining national offices. 4 

* Compiled from World Almanac, 1937, pp. 393-405. 

* Beard, C. A., The American Leviathan, pp. 212 jf., 1932. 

3 Herring, E. P., Group Representation before Congress, pp. 277-283, 1929. 

4 Who's Who among Association Executives, 1935. Published by the Institute for 
Research in Biography, Inc., New York. 


The influence of .pressure groups upon public opinion is obviously 
depended upon the opposing organizations or the general attitudes that 
are encountered. Some groups that encounter little opposition have a 
significant influence without exerting much effort. Their effectiveness 
is also dependent upon the quality of their leadership, the size, character 
and distribution of their memberships and upon their material and 
psychological resources. 1 


The Census of 1930 listed the occupational distribution of workers as: 
manufacturing and mechanical, 14,110,652; agriculture, 10,471,998; 
trade, 6,081,467; domestic and personal, 4,952,451; clerical, 4,025,324; 
transportation and communication, 3,843,147; professional, 3,253,- 
884; extractive and minerals, 984,323; public service, 856,205; forestry 
and fishing, 250,469. Less than 15 per cent of the workers of various 
kinds are affiliated with organizations of the labor, business or professional 
types. But, of course, the organized interest groups exercise power far 
out of proportion to their numerical strength as compared with the total 
number of workers. 

Of the business groups, the Chamber of Commerce of the United 
States has been by far the most important. As an exponent of business 
interests this organization, with a membership of something less than a 
million, maintains lobbies, exerts pressure on legislative and executive 
officers, maintains a speakers' bureau and engages in various publicity 
activities. 2 Its slogan is "What's good for business is good for the 
country." The Chamber of Commerce as an institution representing a 
cross section of American business has come to be recognized as the 
mouthpiece of business interests. It maintains an elaborate fact-finding 
bureau which collects data on various industries and businesses. It 
discovers and marshals the opinion of its membership on controversial 
issues. There are referendums on issues of national importance dealing 
with underlying principles. There are speakers who constantly tour the 
associated chambers and present such results and other material to the 
members. About 300,000 members subscribe to the official publication 
Nation' s Business. Its press bureau is powerful and effective. The 
Chamber of Commerce maintains that it does not engage in lobbying 
or bringing pressure to bear on legislators or administrators. But officials 
are not unaware of its weight. 

1 See Childs, H. L., "Pressure Groups and Propaganda/' Chap. 6, in The American 
Political Scene (Logan, E. B., ed.), 1936. 

1 See the discussion of the activities of the Chamber of Commerce in Herring, 
op. dt. t Chap. 5. 


There are many commercial and. industrial organizations. The 
Department of Commerce listed, in 1931, over 19,000 organizations that 
had for their purpose the advancement of industry or trade, the pro- 
motion of commerce and industry. Of these, there were 2634 interstate, 
national and international organizations, 3050 state and territorial groups 
and 13,625 local organizations. 1 

Among these organizations, the trade associations have become 
increasingly important. These are associations of producers or dis- 
tributors of commodities. The earliest groups were formed shortly after 
the Civil War. During the past twenty years, hundreds of new associa- 
tions have been formed. The NRA stimulated a great deal of organization 
of this type. There are now at least 1500 trade associations of various 
kinds. All major fields of economic activity are organized. These 
groups collect and distribute information about their industries, stand- 
ardize practices, develop policies for their affiliated members, organize 
and maintain national and state lobbies and conduct publicity campaigns 
for the industry as a whole, both in the advertising of products and 
distributing publicity on policies. Over 200 of the trade associations 
maintain lobbies with permanent spokesmen in Washington. In addition 
there are many temporary lobbies to advocate or oppose specific measures. 
The trade groups also engage in special pleading. In a following chapter 
on propaganda, we shall discuss several illustrations of their publicity 
activities of a propaganclistic nature. They also engage in publicity for 
the advertising of their various products. National campaigns have 
been conducted on the qualities of fruits, nuts and other agricultural 
products, on the superiority of electricity to other forms of light and 
heat, on why copper is the "Metal of the Ages," on why one should 
"Say It With Flowers/' on the qualities of cypress (the "Wood Eternal") 
and about scores of other products. 

Among the economic interest groups, the various labor organizations 
have the largest memberships. The American Federation of Labor has 
a membership of approximately three and a half millions, the CIO claims 
a million two hundred thousand and there are numerous small unaffiliated 
unions. The larger groups maintain publicity bureaus, publicize the 
studies and surveys that they make, organize demonstrations and 
"propaganda of the deed" and have become more or less skilled in 
appealing to popular opinion. 


The urge to improve the world is persistent and especially endemic in 
America. It is based upon a dominant value in our culture, that of the 

1 Commercial and Industrial Organizations of the United States, U. S. Department 
of Commerce Publication, 1931. 


possibility of progress. Under democracy, like-minded individuals 
gather together in reform organizations. There have been hundreds of 
such groups in American history, ranging from transient and sporadic 
organizations, advocating a position on an immediate issue, to powerful 
organizations that have continued their agitation for decades. Such 
groups are preoccupied with some aspect of what they consider the 
general welfare and, presumably, not with the furthering of self-interests. 
They would better the conditions of some group or class (the elimination 
of slavery, the obtaining of votes for women, the protection of child life, 
the prevention of cruelty to animals, etc.), prohibit or not prohibit 
alcoholic beverages, introduce more or less violence in international 
relations, or improve public administration, and the like. There are 
several hundred such organizations of national scope at the present 
time. In addition, many of the other interest groups become reform 
organizations from time to time. Representatives of reform groups 
often exhibit great self-confidence in their ability to order and 
arrange desirably the lives of others. 

One of the most effective reform groups in American life has been 
the Anti-Saloon League. Fifty years of temperance and prohibition 
agitation preceded the organization of the Anti-Saloon League in 1893. 
It developed a paid staff of professional workers and an extensive speakers' 
bureau, made use of a number of existing church organizations, created 
lobbies in each of the states and in Washington, exerted pressure on 
Congress and the assemblies and maintained an elaborate organization 
for publicity to influence public opinion and voting. The astute leader- 
ship of the league recognized the tactical value of emotional appeals, 
dramatized the saloon as the enemy of the child and corrupter of youth, 
personalized their inanimate enemy in cartoon and symbol, and related 
the saloon to vice, crime and evil in general. 1 They were early users of 
fear propaganda and drew vivid pictures of alcohol as the great destroyer 
and inciter to violence. In addition to their numerous speeches, the 
league tacticians broadcast their appeals and viewpoints in an enormous 

By 1912, its eight presses were printing more than forty tons of temperance 
literature each month, including thirty-one state editions of the American Issue, 
with an aggregate monthly circulation of more than 500,000. ... By 1916, the 
Westerville plant was printing six different temperance journals, including four 
monthlies with an aggregate circulation of about 420,000, one weekly with a 
circulation of over 130,000 each week, and a daily with a circulation of approxi- 
mately 15,000. . . . One might almost say that the liquor business was drowned 
in a flood of temperance literature. From October, 1909 to January, 1923, the 
American Issue Company turned out 157,314,642 copies of temperance papers. 

1 Odegard, P., Pressure Politics, 1928. 


The periodical literature so far discussed comprised only a part of the League 
propaganda. The record of the job department at Westerville follows. The 
figures cover the period from 1909 to 1923. 

Books 1,925,463 Other cards, tickets, etc.. 18,522,471 

Pamphlets 5,271 ,715 Miscellaneous 21,553,032 

Leaflets 104,675,431 General printing 80,512,132 

Window cards 2,322,053 Total 244,782,296* 

* Reprinted from Odegard, op. cit., pp. 74, 15. By permission of Columbia 
University Press. 

The league worked extensively in the public schools. Talks, leaflets, 
poems, prose, motion pictures, essay contests and songs declared their 
message. l 


Many reform groups, some occupational groups and a few economic 
interest groups have been composed primarily of women. By the 
middle of the nineteenth century, women in America were becoming 
increasingly group conscious and articulate. Women 's colleges had been 
founded, women had been active in the antislavery movement, and in 
1848 the first woman 's rights convention was held. From then on, 
women added rapidly to the number and variety of their organizations. 
In the 1860 's, two suffrage associations were formed, the National 
Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Associ- 
ation. The General Federation of Women's Clubs was launched in 
1890, and at the first biennial convention in 1892 there were 185 clubs 
represented. 2 By 1896 over 100,000 women were represented. Accord- 
ing to Prof. Breckenridge, the principal features of the organization of 
women from that time onward were first federation, then cooperation 
between groups and then specialization of function. 

We shall list briefly the principal women's groups as they appeared 
from 1900 to the present. 3 In 1903 the National Woman's Trade Union 
League heralded women 's organizations in the labor movement. Women 
in medicine were organized in 1904, women in home economics in 1908. 
In that year the Council of Women for Home Missions was founded. 
From 1900 to 1910 the General Federation was extending its activities 
into the fields of civil service reform, education, forestry, household eco- 
nomics, pure food, industrial and child legislation and library extension. 
By 1910 the federation claimed a membership of 800,000. 

1 Pierce, B. L., Citizens' Organizations and the Civic Training of Youth, Chap. 27, 

1 Breckenridge, S. P., Women in the Twentieth Century, pp. 17^., 1933. 

* This list is based upon Prof. Breckenridge's excellent historical sketch, ibid., 
Chaps. 3-6. 


In 1912 the Junior Leagues were organized on a national scale with 
six associations. In 1916 the Federation of Teachers was formed. The 


Woman's Peace Party was organized in 1915. The sporadic organi- 
zation of business women had been occurring for some time, and in 1919 
the National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs 
was founded with delegates from 105 clubs. Meanwhile, the increase in 
variety of interests characterizing existing organizations was proceeding 

Women's organizations based on war activity and patriotism next 
appeared. The Service Star Legion, organized in 1919, rapidly developed 
a membership of 50,000 but has since lost all but 10,000 of its members. 
The Legion Auxiliary had a membership of 412,063 in 1931. The 
Daughters of the American Revolution held its first congress in 1892, 
and in 1932 there were 2463 chapters with a total membership of 169,626. 

The National Council of Catholic Women, founded in 1920, had 1700 
local societies by 1930. And the various parents' organizations were 
growing. A Mothers' Congress met in 1897, which by 1931 had become 
the Parent-Teachers Association, with a national enrollment of 1,511,203 
in 22,000 clubs. These follow, with more or less care, the organization, 
personnel and educational practices of the schools. The Young Women's 
Christian Association had 603,876 members in 1930. Over 50,000 paid 
and volunteer workers engage in activities with the girls of various age 

Meanwhile, the vocational organizations had grown. In 1930 the 
American Home Economics Association had over 10,000 members; in 
the American Nurses' Association over 76,000 registered nurses are 
enrolled; the Federation of Teachers has over 40,000 members; the 
Medical Woman's National Association has about 600; and there are 
about 56,000 individuals enrolled in the 1100 local clubs of the National 
Federation of Business and Professional Women. The farm women had 
organized into associations too numerous to be discussed here. 

Most of the women's organizations have had some direct or indirect 
interest in political functioning, in influencing legislators and in attempt- 
ing to mold general popular opinion. E. P. Herring reports that the 
following groups maintained Washington offices and were involved in 
politics: American Home Economics Association, American Nurses' 
Association, Daughters of the American Revolution, General Federation 
of Women's Clubs, International Association of Police Women, National 
League of American Pen Women, National League of Women Voters, 
National Woman's Party, Women's International League. 1 

The political activities of the National League of Women Voters sur- 
pass those of other women's groups and are, in general, more effective. 

1 Herring, op. cit., p. 280. 



This organization was formed in 1920. It now maintains a national 
office staffed by seventeen executives and twenty clerks. The league 
has unquestionably contributed greatly to the political education of its 
members and their husbands and friends. Study groups, fopims, round 
tables, the quizzing of embarrassed political candidates and their own 
internal group politics have engaged the activities of these busy and 
serious women. Although its membership has remained relatively small, 
perhaps in part owing to the care and meticulous detail with which 
legislative proposals are assessed and to the nonpartisan nature of the 
league's appeal, this is the most promising organization for political 
education in America. There is no parallel group of equally serious 
male voters. 

There are many other types of interest groups. Space forbids further 
elaboration. Table VIII indicates national organizations by fields of 
activity. This table is based upon the lists appearing in A Directory 
of Organizations in the Field of Public Administration. 1 This directory 
listed 1744 organizations in 1932, 1900 in 1934 and 1932 in 1936. Of 
these, the groups by areas were : 





















The increase in the number of interest groups results from the emer- 
gence of new interests and from the schisms within existing groups, 
which occur as the memberships disagree about interests and policies. 
This trend will no doubt continue for some time. And in so far as these 
groups represent real interests of their memberships and are really 
effective in molding the attitudes and opinions of their members, a certain 
isolation from the general public results. "Some tendency to isolation 
and spiritual impoverishment is likely to go with any sort of distinction 
or privilege. . . . These foster special tastes, and these in turn give rise 
to special ways of living and thinking which imperceptibly separate one 
from common sympathy and put him in a special class." 2 Moreover, 
as these groups become fixed and their organizations develop effectiveness 
in publicity and pressure, they put an ever increasing strain upon political 
government. Compromise and adjudication become more difficult. At 

1 Paige, R. M., ed., A Directory of Organizations in the Field of Public Admini*- 
tration, Public Administration Clearing House, Chicago, 1936, 
1 Cooley, C. H., Social Organization, p. 138. 1909. 




Adult education 20 

Agriculture, promotion of 26 

Aviation, regulation and promotion 

of 2 

Banking, regulation of 6 

Blind, welfare of the 5 

Building, inspection and building 

codes 14 

Business and economic life, regulation 

of 24 

Child health 13 

Child welfare 16 

Childhood education 11 

Consumers, protection of interests of 7 

Crime prevention 9 

Cruelty to animals, prevention of . . . 1 

Deaf or hard of hearing, welfare of the 7 

Education 34 

Education for citizenship 7 

Education for public service 4 

Fire protection 7 

Fiscal control 10 

Foreign born, welfare of 8 

Forestry 6 

Game and fish protection . .10 

Gasoline taxation 2 

Handicapped, welfare of 10 

Highway construction and highway 

safety 29 

Hospital administration 12 

Housing 8 

Indians, welfare of 6 

Insurance, regulation of 3 

Justice, administration of 17 

Labor, regulation of conditions of . . . 10 

Law, public 3 

Legislation 5 

Library administration 9 

Liquor control 1 

Mental hygiene 5 

Milk and food inspection 5 

Motion pictures, regulation and 

supervision of 1 

Museums 3 

Negro welfare 9 

Noise abatement 1 

Oil conservation 3 

Parks 11 

Pensions 1 

Physical education 6 

Planning 16 

Police 9 

Ports and waterways 3 

Prisons, administration of correc- 
tional institutions and 11 

Professional training and registra- 
tion 13 

Public administration country and 

rural 7 

Public administration Federal 7 

Public administration general 15 

Public administration municipal . . 9 

Public administration state 8 

Public health 41 

Public personnel administration 11 

Public personnel administration, pos- 
tal service 8 

Public utilities, operation and regula- 
tion of 17 

Public welfare 44 

Public works 15 

Purchasing 4 

Racing, regulation of 1 

Radio education 3 

Recreation 13 

Refuse disposal 2 

Safety 10 

School buildings 6 

Securities, regulation of 2 

Sewerage and sewage disposnl 6 

Social security 5 

Taxation 17 

Universities and colleges 14 

Veterans, welfare of war 4 

Vocational guidance, adjustment and 

placement 13 

Water supply 4 

Weights and measures regulation .... 5 

times they are effective aids to formal government, but the more power- 
ful groups have often made serious inroads on genuinely democratic 
government. 1 

Friedrich, C. J., Constitutional Government and Politics, Chap. 24, 1937. 


But what do they presage for popular opinion? In the United 
States, interest groups have been permitted a maximum of freedom to 
compete for opinion control. They use all the means of communication 
and all the methods of publicity. There is relatively little official control 
of such groups. The result has been a clarification of some issues but a 
confusion of counsel on many others. Much of the information dis- 
tributed by pressure groups is distorted, incomplete and fragmentary, 
and sometimes untrue. 

The development of these interest groups and their use of publicity 
and propaganda are inevitable results of the growth of modern society. 
Several schools of thought now advocate divergent policies in dealing 
with existing groups. There are advocates of various plans based on 
some variation of the European practice of incorporating them into the 
governmental framework of the state. Others would achieve unity by 
increasing the activities of the Federal government in opinion leadership 
and the formulation of policy. 1 Others would increase the number of 
opinion groups, encourage the creation of groups to counter those now 
existing, give additional publicity to the activities of all of them and 
struggle for some regulation of their activities and statements by legal 
restrictions. We shall consider some of the specific proposals in the 
following chapters on propaganda. H. L. Childs writes, "It is within 
the competence of the state, democratically motivated, to prescribe the 
'rules of the game/ and so far as possible to raise the standards of 
pressure-group competition, thereby giving to the concept of l survival 
of the fittest, ' a more rational rather than a non-rational emphasis. By 
so doing, the ruinous consequences of ruthless pressure group competition 
may be avoided without abandoning the concept of freedom and accept- 
ing the fatal consequences of dictatorial state pressure in matters of 
opinion." 2 This objective is logical in principle but difficult to achieve. 
The unhappy liberal realizes the difficulties of governmental and legal 
control to assure veracity of interest-group propaganda and fair competi- 
tion between groups. However, in principle he espouses such objectives. 

1 Herring, E. P., Public Administration and the Public Interest, 1936. 

1 Childs, H. L., op. cit., p. 242. Reprinted by permission of Harper & Brothers. 


"Slogans aboufrthe 'menace of propaganda' contribute to the confu- 
sion and intensify the insecurities which threaten democratic govern- 
ment. . . . Propaganda against propaganda is just another propaganda." 1 

"The propagandist is a man who canalizes an already existing stream. 
In a land where there is no water, he digs in vain." 2 

Popular opinion becomes increasingly important in the modern world. 
Under diverse political systems fascistic, communistic, monarchical, 
representative democratic and popular democratic leadership is increas- 
ingly dependent upon popular approval. Under Protestantism, religious 
ideas and practices were democratized. Today, ethical codes very often 
reflect the folkways and are not developed into an integrated, consistent 
and logical ethical order. Economic groups search for the popular 
desires in consumers' goods. Large publics are increasingly consulted. 
Government, perhaps authoritarian rule most of all, must ascertain the 
wishes of the governed. Modern authoritarian rulers are not despots, 
they are mass creations. However, leadership in diverse fields does not 
merely reflect the popular values; it also attempts to mold them. Hence, 
there is special pleading of many kinds. Governments develop varieties 
of propaganda bureaus, special interest groups retain specialists in public 
relations and individuals hire publicity agents. The public-relations 
counsel is a significant symbol. In class relations, such interpreters 
create popular stereotypes of their employers. The families dominant 
in economic status in America during the nineteenth century often did 
not think it necessary to placate popular opinion. By 1911, the late 
Mr. Rockefeller had hired a publicity agent. The number of groups 
and individuals attempting to create a certain impression or to distribute 
interested information constantly increases. Truths as well as falsehoods 
and misinformation are disseminated. 

Of late years, there is some popular understanding of the prevalence 
of special pleading. "We live among more people than ever who are 
puzzled, uneasy, or vexed at the unknown cunning which seems to have 
duped and degraded them, . . . these people probe the mysteries of 
propaganda with that compound of admiration and chagrin with which 

* H. D. Lasswell. 

A. Huxley. 



the victims of a new gambling trick demand to have the thing explained." 1 
Exposes of governmental propaganda in the World War, of the publicity 
of utility companies, and the like, have stimulated an emotional 
quest for the villain in the piece. Like the barber of Dayton, Tenn., 
who, during the evolution trial, bit the ear of a customer g who 
expressed an opposing viewpoint, there are many who wish to snap at 
the illusive special pleader. However, students of human relations must 
eschew personal praise and blame, except in so far as these are functionally 
useful, cease haranguing on the propaganda menace and first attempt to 
understand special pleading in terms of the general social process. It is 
an inevitable concomitant of the growth and organization of society 
during the past century. 

The attempt to disseminate interested information and to win adher- 
ents to special viewpoints is as old as human society. The maneuverings 
of the primitive chieftain and the circumlocutions of Mary Jones, in her 
attempt to persuade her brother to do her household chores, illustrate 
special pleading. Such personal relationships are persistent. There is 
always competition for control of behavior arid opinion. But in recent 
times there is far more organization of the process, special pleading is 
more consciously attempted and more individuals and publics are 
engaged in the process. The competition for popular support has been 

The phenomenal increase in special pleading is based upon a number 
of general factors. We have discussed at some length the development 
of communication. Technological changes produced printing, pictorial 
representations and finally the radio. With increased means of com- 
munication came literacy and the ability to use these agencies. On this 
was based the development of political democracy and popular suffrage. 
Popular education emerged and resulted in the diffusing of all sorts of 
information and viewpoints. Society rapidly became more complex. 
Diverse interests became apparent. And these interests led, as we have 
noted in the preceding chapter, to a widespread proliferation of interest 
groups. Representatives of these groups proselyted for their particular 
viewpoints. Competitive special pleading for the control of publics out- 
side these groups has been constantly intensified. But with the emer- 
gence of diverse interests and viewpoints there was also a heightened 
popular awareness of the variety of possible positions. This has resulted 
in psychological insecurity. Insecurity begets a quest for definitive 
statements. New special pleaders emerge to meet this popular need. 
These special pleaders, in turn, have expanding needs for communi- 
cation. Hence, the intensified struggles for the control of newspapers, 
cables, motion pictures and radio stations that have characterized the 

1 Lasswell, H. D., Propaganda Technique in the World War, p. 2, 1927. 


past fifty years. And, as the publics enlarged, the methods of appeal and 
the various techniques of transmitting information reached lower common 
denominators. More means of communication, more organization, more 
groups, more special interests and causes, more competition for opinion 
control and the inevitable lowering of types of appeal. Then, too, the 
process is accelerated as communication becomes swifter. Added to this 
are the psychological insights that a science of human relations has 
placed in the hands of special pleaders. Partisan appeal by means of 
misinformation, emotional pleading and the short-circuiting of thought 
is no new thing. It has been the familiar accompaniment of special 
pleading. But the power of modern publicity is that it is directed by 
individuals who have greater understanding of the effective manipulation 
of motives, impulses and attitudes. Hence, with all its limitations, the 
effectiveness of modern publicity is unprecedented in history. All these 
trends have been developing for many years. They were not intended ; 
they were certainly not planned. However, there has recently developed 
an increased popular awareness of the process, and certain aspects have 
become controversial. In addition, latterly, the social scientist has 
purveyed his sometimes more impartial insights. 

Modern special pleading has been relabeled, and we now use the terms 
"publicity," "advertising" and, since the World War, "propaganda." 


If communication is to be accurate and meaningful, the definitions 
of many of the words used in the social sciences must be construed 
with some consideration of the meanings current in popular speech, as 
well as the specialized meanings created by the social scientists. In its 
original meanings, "propaganda" was any form of proselyting, publicity 
or education directed toward the changing of opinions. During the 
World War, it acquired the sinister connotation of special pleading that, 
from concealed sources, distributed untrue or only partly true information 
by devious routes. Popular emotional revulsion to the idea of such 
propaganda was pronounced. Today, governmental special pleaders 
sometimes label their bureaus as " counterpropaganda agencies." Thus 
they imply that their opponents distribute falsehoods which the bureau 
is attempting to correct with accurate information. Certainly the term 
"propaganda" is now in popular disrepute in the English-speaking world. 

In the social sciences a working definition of propaganda is slowly 
emerging, but, owing to the emotional aura that the word has acquired 
in popular usage, it would probably be wiser to abandon it altogether 
and select other terms to designate the processes. However, as publicity 
men, political scientists, psychologists and sociologists are still using this 
word, let us examine some of their meanings. It would be futile and 


largely repetitious to quote several scores of definitions; we may therefore 
limit ourselves to a few significant descriptions of the concept. 

We may first delimit the field of our concept by noting that propa- 
ganda is developed within the processes of communication, in contrast 
to the control of opinion by violent coercion or other types of behavior. 
"Propaganda may be defined as a technique of social control, or as a 
species of social movement. As technique, it is the manipulation of 
collective attitudes by the use of significant symbols (words, pictures, 
tunes) rather than violence, bribery, boycott." 1 Propaganda is dissemi- 
nated through all the channels of communication. 

We may further delimit by noting that propaganda is material that 
is consciously disseminated. There is intent on the part of the propa- 
gandist. "Propaganda refers to the conscious attempt to manage the 
minds of other and usually more numerous publics." 2 Doob has written 
of unintentional as well as intentional propaganda, noting that many of 
the social consequences of the propagandist's activity are unforeseen 
and unintended. 3 This is true regarding particular items, but the 
propagandist may be assumed to have a general objective. In any field, 
classifications based on motives are difficult, as motives must be assumed 
from indirect evidence. And the objective of the propagandist may not 
be evident from one particular statement. However, from a mass of 
evidence one may usually glean some knowledge of his intent. So we 
shall here limit propaganda to intentional special pleading. 

The communication of information intended to influence opinions 
occurs in various types of special pleading, in advertising and publicity 
as well as in propaganda. A common distinction is to limit propaganda 
to special pleading in which there is an attempt to conceal the source. 4 
After rejecting numerous definitions of propaganda as too general, F. E. 
Lumley concludes that, "Propaganda is promotion which is veiled in one 
way or another as to (1) its origin or sources, (2) the interests involved, 
(3) the methods employed, (4) the content spread, and (5) the results 
accruing to the victims any one, any two, any three, any four, or all 
five." 6 We have then, a form of intended communication in which there 
is an attempt to conceal the source. It is the effort, without avowing 
the aim or revealing the motivation, to induce others to adopt beliefs. 

Further, propaganda is usually characterized by the selection of 
materials favorable to the interest of the propagandist and the suppression 

1 Lasswell, II. D., "The Person: Subject and Object of Propaganda," Ann. Am. 
Acad. Pol. Soc. Sci., 179: 89. 

1 Childs, II. L., in The American Political Scene (E. B. Logan, ed.), p. 226, 1936. 

8 Doob, L. W., Propaganda, pp. 76, 77, 1935. 

4 Biddle, W. W., "A Psychological Definition of Propaganda," Jour. Abn. Soc. 
PsychoL, 26: 285. 

6 Lumley, F. E., The Propaganda Menace, p. 44, 1933. 


of unfavorable information. There is no attempt to present the facts 
objectively. There is deliberate distortion by selection. There are 
" partial and deliberately misleading statements." 1 We have, then, "a 
partisan, one-sided, self-serving communication to the public from an 
irresponsible and concealed source, calculated to influence public thought, 
either for or against a public cause or policy." 2 The objective of the 
propagandist is to achieve public acceptance of conclusions, not to 
stimulate the logical analysis of the merits of the case. In this he differs 
from the avowed objective of the educator under democracy. Obviously, 
the educator does not consistently maintain an objective presentation, 
but such is his ideal. But "it is obvious that propaganda has little 
respect for human personality. Propaganda is not education, it strives 
for the closed mind rather than the open mind. It is not concerned about 
the development of mature individuals. Its aim is immediate action. 
The propagandist merely wishes you to think as he does. The educator 
is more modest; he is so delighted if you think at all that he is willing 
to let you do so in your own way." 3 

Further, not only does the propagandist distort by partial and mis- 
leading statements, but he usually, by preference, appeals to the emotions 
of his subjects rather than attempting to stimulate a logical and rational 
analysis of his material. " Propaganda, as I understand it, means the 
process whereby public opinion is formed and controlled by appeal to 
the irrational side of man's nature in such a way that it is usually favor- 
able to the interests of those directing the propaganda." 4 With all this 
intentional distortion and selection of materials to be disseminated as 
conclusions by emotional appeals, it is little wonder that to the common 
man propaganda has come to mean deliberate lying. 

Of course, one is not unaware of the distorting effect of the accepted 
standards, values and viewpoints of any culture and its subgroups upon 
the opinions of its members. Such distortion is inevitable. Members 
of large groups cannot understand any controversial issue with entire 
objectivity. They begin with traditional biases. But such general dis- 
tortions are not propagandistic. Propaganda jis a special term referring 
to the intentional dissemination of conclusions from concealed sources 
by interested individuals and groups. 


The history of propaganda may be discussed in terms of the develop- 
ment of theories about special pleading, its defense and condemnation 

1 Steed, W., The Causes of War (A. Porritt, ed.), p. 172, 1932. 

1 Pew, M. E., "Propaganda," Teachers College Record, 31: 37. 

1 Martin, E. D., The Conflict of the Individual and the Mass, p. 29, 1932. 

4 Beagleholc, E., "Some Aspects of Propaganda," Australian Jour. Psychol Phil. 9 
6: 96. 


or in terms of the analysis of social structures and situations in which 
propaganda has been functionally significant. The theoretical justifi- 
cation of propaganda stems from Plato, who, in the Republic, advocated 
the suppression of the poets as special pleaders whose influence was dis- 
ruptive. However, an official state poet was to be permitted to express 
the governmental position. The Platonic myth was to be inculcated. 
From Plato to the latest official justifications of propaganda emanating 
from Dr. GoebbePs Propaganda Ministry, there have been a host of 
theoretical defenses of propaganda, especially as administered by state 
and church. Distortion and lying, by leadership, for the public good 
has frequently been justified. The sociologist is primarily interested, 
not in the history of ideas about propaganda, but in the actual use of 
propaganda in social situations as a means of social control. Propa- 
ganda has ever been a concomitant of group conflict situations when it 
was necessary to plead with large publics. Propaganda has appeared 
whenever a leadership has attempted to weld the opinions of a people, 
from the political propaganda of a Julius Caesar, the propaganda of the 
Roman Catholic church, the propagation of the Napoleonic legend, 
Potemkin's propagandizing for Catherine the Great, Sam Adams' pam- 
phleteering propaganda for the American Revolution, the propaganda of 
both North and South in the Civil War, to the proliferating propagandas 
of all sides in the World War. That propaganda is rife today on so 
many fronts merely reflects the variety of viewpoints and interests. 
That there is so much discussion of propaganda in Western publics 
reflects a more widespread consciousness of the importance of the springs 
of information. But the process is not new, although the extensive 
cultivation of it by so many groups is a modern phenomenon. 

A few fragmentary historical references will illustrate the earlier use 
of propaganda. 

According to Bertrand Russell, Herodotus, the father of history, was a hired 
propagandist of the Athenian State. He employed his literary talents as a 
historian to glorify his employer. In the war of the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, 
the Pope, Mr. Russell insists, won because he outdid the emperor in the organi- 
zation of propaganda. At the time of the Armada, both Philip and Elizabeth 
indulged in energetic propaganda campaigns. Philip accused Elizabeth of every 
imaginable crime, while the friends of Elizabeth made all England shudder at 
ihe horrors of the Inquisition. Even Shakespeare was a propagandist, if we 
accept Mr. Russell's opinion. King Henry VIII was propaganda for Elizabeth 
and Macbeth for James I, who is shown as the descendant of Bauquo, wearing a 
triple crown. 1 

1 Viereck, G. S., Spreading Germs of Hate, p. 7, 1930, Quoted by permiwpu Q( 
Liveright Publishing Corporation. 


The synplicity of language of Caesar 's Commentaries, which has made 
it a favored introductory exercise for Latin scholars, has been ascribed 
to Caesar's political appeals to the Roman masses. Such appeal was 
necessarily couched in simple language. Octavian and Antony are 
reported to have engaged in every then-known trick of political propa- 
ganda, and Cicero is portrayed as an accomplished propagandist. 1 

Sporadic appearances of propaganda are to be noted through the 
Middle Ages, especially in connection with the Crusades. The atrocity 
stories at the time of the Crusades are remarkably similar to those dis- 
tributed during the World War. The witchcraft delusions and the 
Reformation were accompanied by some propaganda from official sources. 
All mass movements have their legends, rumors, stories and distorted 
and untrue information. Some such material is an inevitable result of 
human psychological processes under the strains of crises. Today, the 
fleeing Chinese are reported to be spreading atrocity stories about the 
Japanese. Only a small proportion of these probably are true. Propa- 
ganda is the organized dissemination of interested information. Though 
some organized propaganda existed in the ancient civilizations, in the 
Middle Ages and in the succeeding centuries, it was not until the seven- 
teenth century that an organization devoted to the systematic devel- 
opment of special pleading appeared. In 1622, Pope Gregory XV 
inaugurated the congregatio de propaganda fide. This organization was 
charged with the supervision of liturgical books, the reports of bishops 
and other officials abroad and the carrying on of political, as well as 
religious, propaganda. Working through the thirty-seven large brother- 
hoods and special missions, this body strove for the strengthening of the 
political power of the Pope. 2 

Through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the stream of 
organized propaganda increased. "William Cobbett, about 1800, would 
use a lesson in grammar as a means of propaganda. Ostensibly illus- 
trating the use of the verb "to be" he would write, To say that 'all Kings 
and priests is liars and oppressors of the poor' is not correct, but it is 
correct to say ' all Kings and priests are liars and oppressors of the poor.' " 3 
At the close of the eighteenth century, Catherine had a master press 
agent and propagandist in her erstwhile lover Potemkin. 4 Napoleon 
was a propagandist who used all the then existing channels of communi- 
cation, but he lacked a great propaganda director. He could suppress, 
limit and control (indeed, he suppressed sixty-nine of the seventy- 

1 Lumley, op. tit., pp. 58, 59. 

* Stern-Rubarth, E., Public Opinion and World Politics (Wright, Q., ed.), p. 98, 

1 Desmond, R. W., The Press and World Affairs, p. 156, 1937. Quoted by per* 
mission of D. Appleton- Century Company, Inc. 

4 Dreifuss, J., Catherine and Potemkin, 1936. 


three Parisian newspapers), but he did not effectively influence public 
opinion by indirection. "The press bureau under him was not a success; 
he could suppress, censor, crush, and intimidate the press; he could secure 
its adulation and its homage, but he evidently could not force his opinions 
on it." 1 Later in the nineteenth century, the organization of propa- 
ganda became more effective, the plans more astute and the methods 
more carefully worked out. Bismarck was a master propagandist. 
Through the press bureau, Bismarck suggested and dictated articles, 
indicated where and how they should appear, used fabricated letters to 
the papers purporting to come from France or Rome, started rumors and 
organized foreign propaganda. 2 The need for influencing popular 
opinion was becoming more evident, and the methods of distortion were 
being created. 

In America, propaganda has accompanied each great mass move- 
ment. In the agitation preceding the Revolutionary War, a number of 
propagandists, notably Sam Adams, were effective inciters to revo- 
lution. Sam Adams organized town meetings, pamphleteered, manipu- 
lated newspapers and became expert in spreading rumors and creating 
legends. He has been designated a pioneer in propaganda. 3 This 
Puritan Machiavelli was a fomenter of revolt, a manipulator of mass 
emotions. In the Civil War, propaganda was more organized. "Sup- 
plementing their formal diplomatic negotiations, Lincoln and Davis both 
paid court to the art of propaganda. The extent to which the federal 
government engaged in frank and covert efforts to influence foreign 
opinion is not easy to discover because all the official papers are not 
available. ... As to the propaganda of the Confederacy in foreign 
fields, more is actually known because its archives, seized after the war, 
were thrown open by the national government, revealing to the public 
the official efforts of President Davis to win support by the circulation 
of prepared ideas." 4 The Spanish-American War was conducted amid 
a welter of propaganda resulting in part from the search for spectacular 
stories conducted by the correspondents of the burgeoning press of the 
late nineties. 5 Theodore Roosevelt was one of the first public officials 
to perceive the importance of shaping public opinion by modern methods. 
Economic groups increasingly engaged in propaganda. 

Competent individuals have long understood the uses and the princi- 
pal methods of propaganda. But propaganda has lately increased 
enormously because of increasing group conflicts and diversity. The 

1 Salmon, L. M., The Newspaper and Authority, p. 323, 1923. 
1 Ibid., p. 326. 

3 Miller, J. C., Sam Adams, 1936. 

4 Beard, C. A., The Rise of American Civilization, pp. 85, 86, 1927. 
6 Read Millis, W., The Martial Spirit, 1931. 


stream of ideas in western Europe for centuries was obtained from the 
Bible and from the Greek and Latin classics. Political ideologies were 
not so varied as they have become. The underlying myths were more 
nearly alike. Today there is political diversity (the followers of Hitler 
have bought some millions of copies of Mein Kampf, and Lenin's 
followers have bought over four million sets of his collected works), 
numerous economic doctrines compete for a hearing and there is a 
phantasmagoria of conflicting values in various fields. The special 
pleader fishes in the troubled waters of contemporary cultural and group 
diversity. Propaganda in the modern sense begins approximately at the 
middle of the nineteenth century. "The Anti-Corn Law League, founded 
by Cobden and Bright in England in the year 1839, inaugurated the first 
highly organized persuasion peculiar to our times." 1 The crumbling of 
values and the processes of disorganization were accelerated by the 
World War. It was then that the harried governments indulged in the 
extremes of blatant propaganda. The flight from reason was acceler- 
ated. It was from the close of the war onward that the average news- 
paper reader observed more and more frequently this alien Latin word 


In the World War, there was great diversity, on each side, in the 
cultural backgrounds of the peoples engaged in the struggle. It was 
necessary for the Allies and also the Central Powers to weld together 
the ideas and opinions of their peoples. This diversity also offered each 
side a fertile field for special pleading among the enemy, who might be 
divided and their morale disrupted. Therefore, propaganda was more 
extensively used than in any preceding conflict. "The definite purposes 
of war-time propaganda in every belligerent country were to maintain 
the morale of the armed forces of the state, create a favorable state of 
mind at home, diminish the morale of the enemy, influence favorably 
neutral opinion concerning the reason, justice, and necessity of the con- 
flict, and, if possible, induce friendly action." 2 However, propaganda on 
a large scale did not begin with the World War, as numerous writers 
have asserted, but it was more widely disseminated and more highly 
organized than it had ever been before. Societal leadership became 
increasingly conscious of the uses and methods of propaganda. And 
since the war, propaganda has become a subject for public discussion. 
Numerous popular exposes of the war propaganda; the widely read auto- 
biographical accounts of its chief practitioners, who, during the twenties, 

* Biddle, W. W., Propaganda and Education, p. 20, 1932. 

*Lutz, R H., "Studies of World War Propaganda," Jour. Mod. Hist., 5; 496-516. 


half ruefully displayed their derelictions from the paths of truth; 1 the 
debunking accounts of popular historians in the decade after the war 
provided the more literate with an astounding record. But, essentially, 
propaganda was an inevitable product of modern special interests and 
the growth of communication. The World War simply intensified 
greatly the use of nationalistic propaganda and high-lighted the process. 
Opinion was mobilized as never before, and, after the war, the intellectuals 
and then masses of people became aware that such had been the case. 

The widespread use of propaganda in the World War was inevitable. 
Long before the war, the stage was being set. The rise of modern 
publics, the development of means of communication, the need for 
general public approval in order to carry on modern warfare which 
necessitated the mobilization of civilians as well as soldiers, the existence 
of trained publicity men who had learned their art while advertising 
economic goods, the rise of a scientific psychology that made available 
to leadership the principles of mass suggestion, the knowledge of the 
cultures of alien peoples that had been accumulating rapidly during the 
preceding century all these were factors. The channels of communi- 
cation were mobilized in part before the war. Channels for the collection 
and distribution of foreign news were in large part nationally controlled. 
The diplomats of France with its Havas Agency, Great Britain with 
Reuter 's, Germany with Wolff had already learned to use these national 
news bureaus to slant, distort and create news. 2 Foreign offices had 
plans for systematic propaganda at home and abroad. 

Before the war, various German scholars had been employed in 
making meticulous studies of foreign psychologies. Although masses of 
information had been accumulated, it was rarely adequately coordinated, 
as the various departments and ministries that had sponsored these 
studies were relatively autonomous. After the war started, each depart- 
ment went ahead in its own way. There is general agreement among 
students of World War propaganda that a fatal flaw of the German 
system was the lack of coordination among the propagandists of the War 
Ministry, the Navy Department, the Colonial Office, the Foreign Office 
and other governmental divisions. 3 Within Germany, the principal 

1 Blankenhorn, H., Adventures in Propaganda, 1919. 

Charteris, G. J. f AtO.H.Q., 1931. 

Creel, G., How We Advertised America, 1920. 

Crozier, J., In the Enemy's Country, 1931. 

Stuart, Sir C., Secrets of Crewe House, 1920. 

Viereck, op. cit. 

Bernstorff, Count von, My Three Years in America, 1920. 

Gibbs, Sir P., Now It Can Be Told, 1920. 
1 Irwin, W., Propaganda and the News, p. 122, 1936. 
1 Lasswell, op. oU., p. 22. 


themes of the propagandist were hatred and disparagement of the enemy, 
the war as self-defense against encirclement, the historic mission and 
high culture of the Germans and the inevitableness of victory. 1 But, 
because of the lack of agreement between departments, no effective 
national campaigns carried these appeals to all the German people. 
This is usually ascribed to the obstinacy of the War Office and the General 
Staff, which remained unconvinced as to the necessity of propaganda 
within Germany. In a brilliant analysis of German propaganda, Dr. 
Friedrich Thimme points to this failure as a radical fault. 2 Moreover, 
German propaganda abroad is credited with few real victories. Special 
pleading in Turkey was an exception. In a well-workcd-out plan of 
bribery of a corruptible press, of specially written news reports and of 
pressures on officials, the German propagandists influenced the Turkish 
mind so that Turkey was brought into the war on the side of the Central 
Powers. Another exception was the skillful management of news sent 
from the Nauen wireless station. These news reports are credited with 
considerable success in influencing neutral opinion in Mexico and in most 
of South America. 3 However, most German propaganda abroad failed 
through ineptitude. As German leadership was unconvinced as to the 
importance of this work, the best minds were not directed to the problem. 
German propaganda had some successes. Russian morale was weakened 
by the flood of German printed newspapers and pamphlets. Holland 
and the Norwegian countries were influenced considerably. But at the 
crucial points, in the United States and among the Allied armies, it was 
relatively unsuccessful in comparison with the propaganda of the Allies 
among the Central Powers. G. S. Viereck, one of the German propa- 
gandists in the United States during the early years of the war, although 
he overstates the effectiveness of his own work, finally concludes that 
"the Germans were amateurs compared to the British. Nevertheless, 
German propaganda in the United States cannot be pronounced as a 
failure if its object was to keep America out of the war from August, 
1914 to April, 1917." 4 It is true, however, that the German propa- 
gandists operated under great handicaps. Their armies had gone 
through Belgium and were invading France. In any invading army 
there will be incidents of brutality and violence which may be dramatized 
by the opponents and which are difficult to refute. German submarine 
warfare angered Americans and could not be explained away. The 
affinities between England and America could not be broken down. 

1 Lutz, op. cit. t p. 500. 
Salmon, op. cit. t p. 338. 

* Thimme, H., Weltkrieg ohne Waffen, 1932. 

* Irwin, op. dt. t pp. 129 ff. 
4 Viereck, op. tit., p. 118. 


The failures of German propaganda have been extensively reported, both 
by their own writers and by foreign observers. 1 

The lack of capable organization among the Allied propagandists 
during the first year of the war is generally admitted, but they had 
several great advantages over the Germans. As the English controlled 
the cables and cut most of the cables between Germany and the rest of 
the world, the Allies could spread stories about the German invaders; a 
language common to England and America was of inestimable advantage; 
the Allies had many organizations in the United States that were pro- 
ponents of their cause. By the end of the first year of the war the 
main outlines of the English and French propaganda organizations for 
influencing the opinions of their own peoples and those of the neutrals 
had emerged. Intensive propaganda among the enemy came later. The 
importance of the work of maintaining civilian morale in England was 
made dramatically evident in 1915 when a series of exposes of military 
inefficiency confused and angered the English people, thus causing the 
formation of a new cabinet. 2 Steps were then taken to bring about a 
closer control of English news and communications. The importance of 
propaganda among neutrals, especially in the United States, was recog- 
nized from the beginning of the war. " Mitchell divides the subject 
matter of this propaganda into five parts. First, the militarist ideal in 
German life with its contempt for arbitration and its malice aforethought 
toward neutral Belgium. Second, the war policies of imperial Germany 
and a comparison of these 'damnable practices' (atrocities, deportations 
of workers, submarine warfare, etc.) with Allied methods. Third, a 
comparison of British colonial methods with German methods. Fourth, 
the idealistic war aims of the Allies in contrast with the German motives 
for opposing the new world order. Fifth, Great Britain's friendship for 
the United States described in the phrase * Hands Across the Sea.'" 3 
Historians differ as to the importance that they ascribe to English propa- 
ganda as a cause of America's entrance into the war. But they agree 
that most of the English propaganda campaigns in the United States 
were well organized, adequately subtle and for the most part quite 
successful in influencing opinion here. 

1 Thimme, op. cit. 

Gerlach, H. von, Die Grosse Zeit der Luge, Charlottenburg, Verlag der Weltbuhne, 

Mitchell, P. C., Report on the Propaganda Library, 3 vols., London, H. M. Station- 
ery Office, 1917. 

Lechartier, G., Intrigues et diplomatics d Washington, Paris, Plon-Nourrit, 1919. 

For further bibliographical material on this point, see Lutz, op. cit. 
8 Irwin, op. cit., p. 150. 

Willis, I. C., England's Holy War, 1928. 
1 Lutz, op. cit., p. 51 L Quoted by permission of University of Chicago Press. 


When the United States entered the war, government publicity and 
propaganda were quickly organized under the guidance of the Committee 
on Public Information. The committee was formed by executive order 
on Apr. 14, 1917. It consisted of the Secretaries of State, War and 
Navy, with Mr. George Creel as civilian chairman. Numerous publicity 
and newspaper men were available, men trained in advertising, the 
publicity of pressure groups, and in American journalism where the fine 
art of slanting news was a commonplace. The committee created sub- 
divisions which dealt with (1) distribution of releases from civil and 
military departments, (2) a daily official bulletin, (3) civic and educational 
cooperation through the preparation and circulation of the Red, White, 
and Blue and the War Information pamphlets, (4) speaking in motion- 
picture theatres by four-minute men, (5) major public speaking cam- 
paigns, (6) syndicate features, (7) films, (8) pictures, (9) foreign-language 
papers, (10) distribution, (11) women 's war work, (12) reference, (13) art, 
(14) advertising, (15) foreign educational work and (16) business manage- 
ment. On one point President Wilson was adamant. The funds of the 
committee were not to be used for bribery of officials in charge of channels 
of communication abroad. Fortunately for the maintenance of this high 
moral tone we were not under great pressure to influence neutrals. In 
general, governmental publicity and propaganda were quite successful in 
the United States. 1 The war ended too soon for our special pleaders of 
the Division on Foreign Educational Work to develop extensively the 
channels for veiled propaganda abroad. They did give wide publicity 
to the statements of the war aims of the United States, especially through 
quotations from President Wilson. 

In 1918, the Allies conducted an extensive propaganda campaign 
within Germany by means of leaflets, books, news sheets and pamphlets 
which were distributed by planes and balloons and in various ways 
smuggled into Germany. These aimed to shatter the faith of Germans 
in their own leaders and ideas and thus disrupt morale. Dr. Thimme 
credits the United States with providing the fundamental thesis of this 
drive through President Wilson's utterances for freedom and democracy 
against militarism and autocracy. Though it cannot be denied that 
Allied propaganda was an important factor in disrupting German morale 
in 1918, it is possible that its influence in bringing about the German 
downfall has been overestimated. Most of the Allied propagandists who 
have written about this campaign have perhaps overestimated the 
effectiveness of their own work, and German commentators, likewise, 
have had patriotic reasons to overestimate the results of this drive. 

1 Creel, G., op. cit. A laudatory estimate of the activities of American propagan- 



Civilian morale appears to have followed closely the trends of German 
military position and success and failure. G. G. Bruntz, using the 
original charts of the United States War Department, has developed a 
simple chart indicating military position and the percentages of civilian 

We have presented only a few general statements about war propa- 
ganda. 1 This is not the place to summarize at great length the numerous 
descriptive accounts of national propaganda in wartime. A sizable liter- 
ature of descriptive and analytic accounts on this subject has appeared 

Civilian morale 
Military position 
Food situation 





1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 

Fio. 12. (From Bruntz, G. G., "Allied Propaganda and the Collapse of German Morale in 
1918, M Pub. Opin. Quar., January, 1938, pp. 64, 65. Permission to reproduce granted.) 

during the past twenty years. The student of war propaganda must turn 
to these for extensive records. The methods and processes of propaganda 
are not essentially different for propaganda in wartime and national 
propaganda in peacetime, except in so far as war increases governmental 
control and gives the propagandist a freer hand. He may thereupon be 
more blatant and use cruder tactics. In the following chapter we shall 
refer to the methods of the wartime propagandist, as well as those of 
the peacetime special pleader, under the caption The Art of Propaganda. 

1 The best two books on the processes of war propaganda are the volumes by 
Lasswell and Thimme to which we have referred in preceding footnotes. 



It is possible today to generalize about the methods of propaganda. 
These are common to the propaganda disseminated by states, economic 
groups and institutional special interest groups in all Western cultures. 
We shall essay such generalization in the following chapter. However, 
no single student is adequately conversant with the different languages 
and the special cultural and political conditions of various contemporary 
European states to present an adequate descriptive and analytical 
account of the diverse and rapidly changing propaganda agencies of those 
states. We shall content ourselves at this point with a few fragmentary 
statements about national propagandas. 

Political leaders have always used propaganda to further their causes. 
But, as we have noted, contemporary propaganda is quite different from 
that of earlier periods, in extent and amount, in conscious and highly 
skilled direction, in the variety of channels through which it is dissemi- 
nated and in the diverse causes that it serves. Modern state propa- 
ganda, though similar in essence, is as functionally different from that 
of the Athenians as is the modern daily newspaper cartoon from the few 
scrawls of similar nature that were produced by the ancient Hindus. Prop- 
aganda is essential to the development of unanimity in modern states. 
It was incidental to the development of tribes or simple folk peoples. 

Contemporary governments increasingly engage in special pleading 
and organized propaganda. " Fifty-seven or more countries are seeking 
in one way or another to obtain public acceptance of their objectives. 
Germany, Italy and Russia have incorporated in their governmental 
structures special departments and agencies for utilizing modern tech- 
niques of opinion management/' 1 There is the propaganda conducted 
by national states, and that carried on in the interests of the state by 
private organizations. The extent of such propaganda cannot be known 
now. It cannot be calculated in terms of amount or cost. The propa- 
ganda budgets for activities within and without a state are hidden in 
many a departmental budget. The admitted activities are a small part 
of the total. In 1933, when demanding and obtaining an increased 
appropriation of 33 million francs for French propaganda abroad, 
Foreign Minister Paul-Boncour declared that during the preceding year 
the admitted expenditures of Germany for the same purpose were 256 
million francs (before Hitler); of Italy, 119 million francs; of France, 71 
million francs; of Great Britain, 69 million francs; of Poland, 26 million 
francs; and of Hungary, 23 million francs. 2 These figures have meaning 

1 Childs, H. L., article in Seventh Yearbook, National Council for the Social Studies, 
p. 1, 1937. 

' Time, Apr. 17, 1933. 


simply as indicators of the large sums involved. They are neither 
accurate nor complete. Most expenditures of this type are hidden in 
budgets. Since 1933, expenditures for propaganda have increased. In 
Germany, during 1937, Dr. Goebbels' Propaganda Ministry was allotted 
483^ million dollars, and an additional 21 million dollars for propaganda 
abroad. 1 It is impossible to distinguish between governmental expendi- 
tures on informational service and its propaganda activities. 2 There are 
no accurate figures on the cost of governmental propaganda at home and 
abroad for any major nation. 

The expansion of state propaganda activities developed during the 
World War and has been continued since then. Under authoritarian 
governments the individual citizen has been the object of special propa- 
ganda efforts, and the world outside has been deluged with special 
pleading. But the governments in power in democracies have also 
increasingly engaged in propaganda at home and abroad. The effective- 
ness of these efforts varies with the special conditions in each case. For 
example, existing attitudes and prejudices make ineffective much of the 
propaganda activity between France and Germany. But Mussolini's 
propaganda among tribesmen of Africa and the Near East has been 
notably successful. The United States has not spent large sums on state 
propaganda abroad, but the largely incidental propaganda of certain 
motion pictures has been notably influential in many parts of the world. 
The influence of a state's propaganda abroad can be measured neither 
by the money nor the effort expended thereon. Moreover, in the preva- 
lent opinions of the citizens of any two nations about one another, the 
influence of unofficial special pleading may be far more effective than 
official propaganda. And the objectives of unofficial special pleaders 
may likewise be hidden. Dr. Lin Yutang maintains that the average 
citizen in the United States has been influenced far more by missionaries' 
accounts of the Chinese people than by any other reports. 3 And the 

1 Editorial, St. Louis Globe-Democrat, Jan. 16, 1938. 

8 See: Kent, F. R., " Washington's Ballyhoo Racket," Am. Mag., September, 1937; 
Carroll, G., "Dr. Roosevelt's Propaganda Trust," Am. Mercury, September, 1937; 
Michael, G., Handout, 1935. The last item is a perfervid pamphleteering attack on 
the present administration and no doubt contains many inaccuracies. 

Opponents of the present Democratic administration have maintained that 
governmental informational services, a large part of which they label " propaganda," 
cost over 200 million dollars a year over 100 million in lost postal revenues, 25 million 
for paper and 75 million for printing all this in addition to the salaries paid to 
publicity men in various departments. 

See also: Herring, E. P., "Official Publicity under the New Deal," Ann. Am. 
Acad. Pol. Soc. Sci., 179: 167-175; Hanson, E., "Official Propaganda and the New 
Deal," Ann. Am. Acad. Pol. Soc. Sci., 179: 176-186. 

1 Yutang, L. f "A Chinese Gives Us Light on His Nation," New York Times Mag., 
Nov, 22, 1936. 


ideas tljfat the missionary has disseminated about the Chinese are those 
spectacular and dramatic items about Chinese folkways which will be 
most likely to influence Kansas audiences to give more funds to mission- 
aries. International propaganda activities are pervasive in the modern 
world because of the variety of interests involved. Of these, the state 
is but one, unless, as in the case of authoritarian states, it assumes a 
monopoly of export propaganda. 

The distortion and suppression of facts and other aspects of special 
propaganda pleading are defended and assumed as a justifiable activity 
of governments under dictatorships. In Russia, Italy, Germany and 
under a host of minor authoritarian governments, the notion of a com- 
pletely informed public opinion is rejected. Substituted for this idea is 
the doctrine of the paramount necessity of prevailing upon people at 
home and abroad to accept the " proper beliefs," that is, the beliefs 
revealed or developed by their leadership. Public opinion process, in 
the sense of controversial discussion, is repudiated. For them, political 
truth is something, not that the individual seeks for himself, but that 
exists or is revealed in party programs with which the individual must 
be brought into harmony. Political truth is a monopoly of the Commu- 
nist doctrine or of fascism or of Nazi principles. The writings of Marx, 
or Pareto or Sorel are used to bolster the leaders' contentions. 

In Germany, Nazi propaganda was organized long before Hitler came 
into power. It was related to attitudes that already existed among 
masses of Germans. Many people wanted the Jews persecuted, the 
trade unions dissolved, national sovereignty asserted, reparations stopped, 
political parties suppressed and a more unified national culture created. 
The Nazis provided a general program and defended it as an inspired 
cause. Der Fiihrer enunciated a program and became a prophet. After 
coming to power, the Nazis organized at once their plan of censorship 
and restriction and of propaganda of the cause. Intimidation was inade- 
quate; the vacillating must be convinced. "The organization of a 
National Ministry of Propaganda and Popular Enlightenment immedi- 
ately after the hour of triumph had struck for the Brown Shirt forces, is 
in itself a remarkable comment on Hitler's reluctance to rely primarily 
on the fists of his followers or the display of governmental authority." 1 
Supporters were to be enrolled, not only by actually changing some 
objective realities, but also by ideological conscription. Symbols were 
widely used, emotional loyalties aroused and the sources of information 
controlled. Dr. Goebbels of the Propaganda Ministry organized seven 
divisions to which were entrusted all channels of communication. 

1 Marx, F. M., "State Propaganda in Germany," in Propaganda and Dictatorship 
(Childs, H. L., ed.), p. 13, 1936. Quoted by permission of Princeton University 


Division I: Legislation and Legal Problems; Budget, Finances, and Account- 
ing; Personnel Administration; Ministerial Library; National Chamber of 
Culture; Council of Commercial Advertising (Werberat der Deutschen Wirtschaft); 
Fairs and Expositions. 

Division II: Coordination of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda 
(Positive Weltanschauungspropaganda) ; Regional Agencies of the Ministry; 
German Academy of Politics (Deutsche HocJischulefurPolitik); Official Ceremonies 
and Demonstrations; National Emblems: Racial Questions; Treaty of Versailles; 
National Literature and Publishing; Opposing Ideologies; Youth Organization; 
Business and Social Politics; Public Health and Athletics; Eastern and Border 
Questions; National Travel Committee (Reichsausschms fur Fremdenverkehr). 

Division III: Radio; National Broadcasting Company (Reichsrundfunk- 
Gesellschaft m. b. H.). 

Division IV: National and Foreign Press; Journalism; Press Archives, News 
Service; National Association of the German Press (Reichsverband der Deutschen 

Division V: Cinema; Moving Picture Industry; Cinema Censorship; Youth 
Literature Censorship. 

Division VI: Theater, Music, and Art; Theater Management; Stage Direction; 
Design; Folk Art. 

Division VII: Protection against Counter-Propaganda at Home and Abroad. 1 

Newspapers were controlled, journalists certified, literature scanned 
and certified and radio and motion-picture productions administered by 
Nazi officials, in the interests of the party. The Japanese call their 
combination of censorship and propaganda " thought control/' German 
propaganda under Dr. Goebbcls has often been subtle thought control. 
It is true that the propagandist in the authoritarian state may readily 
be credited with more cleverness than he has really exhibited, owing to 
the fact that he is likewise a censor. None the less, it is generally 
admitted that the Propaganda Ministry has exhibited an astute knowl- 
edge of the desires of the German people. German propaganda abroad 
has been less successful. In the United States, it has been carried on 
through many organizations favorable to Germany, by distributing 
literature and by promoting tourism. 2 This propaganda has been largely 
unsuccessful because the actual and reported events in Germany alienated 
large sections of the American population, which were intolerant of 
violence, persecution and undemocratic political procedures. 3 

Any authoritarian government seeks to substitute political uniformity 
for party strife. Modern dictatorial governmental control has its longest 

1 Marx, op. cit., p. 20. Quoted by permission of Princeton University Press. 

1 Riegel, O. W., Mobilizing for Chaos, p. 205, 1934. German propaganda activities 
in the United States were the subject of a Congressional Investigating Committee 
report entitled Investigations of Nazi Propaganda Activities, 73rd Congress^ Second 
Session, Hearings No. 73-DC-4; 73-ATF-7; 73-A/T-12; and 73-A/T-18. 

* Read Doob, op. cit., pp. 290-301. 


history in Soviet Russia. Opinion management has been the objective 
of C6mmunist leaders since 1917. If they have not exhibited the 
virtuosity in opinion control that has been evidenced in Germany, this 
is due to the lack of development of Russia's means of communication 
and to the diverse, varied and backward populations with which they 
have had to deal. On Nov. 12, 1920, a decree was issued for the creation 
of the Main Political Education Committee of the Republic. 1 This 
committee has charge of the entire work of political propaganda and 
education. Its objective has been to inform masses as to what the 
party stands for. The first section of the committee has charge of the 
school system and has supervised the content of school subjects, especially 
in the social studies. The second section, the Politprosvet, has charge of 
the general work of political education and propaganda. The funda- 
mental unit of this section is that which develops the peasant reading 
huts and the town clubs. The reading huts and clubs have been con- 
sistently increased in number, until in 1933 there were 54,623 such 
organizations. 2 These clubs have striven for the liquidation of illiteracy, 
especially among adults. 3 Reading lists, general histories, geographies 
and outlines of political economy have been prepared and distributed 
among the clubs, as well as in the formal schools. Lectures, motion 
pictures, radio broadcasts, and excursions are organized for the club 
members. One must remember the vast number of illiterates still exist- 
ing in Russia, despite the intensive endeavors of the party. In 1928 
there were over eighteen million illiterates in European Russia and more 
than that number in Asiatic Russia, and over 40 per cent of the children 
of school age were still without access to schools. 4 Large appropriations 
have been made for libraries into which have been placed selected lists 
of books. In 1934 there were 32,456 such libraries. Amusements, plays 
and motion pictures are also supervised; indeed, nowhere else have the 
stage and screen been so completely organized in the interests of political 
propaganda. 5 The huge army, with its changing personnel, has been a 
fertile center for political education in Russia. The soldiers receive a 
thorough course in indoctrination in party principles as a part of their 
training. During two full years they receive political education as well 
as military training. Newspapers, periodical publications and, indeed, 
all printed materials are vigorously supervised. The press Is propa- 

1 Maxwell, B. W., "Political Propaganda in Soviet Russia," in Propaganda and 
Dictatorship (Childs, H. L., ed.), p. 62. 

2 Maxwell, op. cit. t p. 66. 

8 Harper, S. N., Civic Training in Soviet Russia, Chap. 13, 1929. 

4 Maxwell, op. cit. % p. 70. 

6 Propagandist^ motion pictures have not always been popular. Indeed, the 
recent increase in importation of foreign motion pictures has resulted from popular 


gandist, and some papers (such as the Workman's and Peasant's News* 
paper) have enormous circulations. In spite of all this intensive 
cultivation of the " right " political attitudes, political education con- 
stantly lags behind the expectations of party leaders, and the Central 
Committee of the party is persistently occupied with this problem. 

Regimented opinion is the objective of authoritarian states. Dic- 
tators maintain that social discipline can be achieved in no other way. 
From this viewpoint, effective state action is declared to depend upon 
doctrinal unity. Moreover, the doctrines are flexible and are changed 
in terms of immediate objectives. Dictatorial propaganda, with varying 
degrees of skill, strives to align people with state programs. The methods 
used and the success achieved vary with the situation. Descriptive 
accounts of such propagandas are available in a growing literature. 1 

In a world of competing political doctrines, the partisans of demo- 
cratic government cannot depend solely upon appeal to reason or abstract 
liberalism. But the propaganda for democracy cannot be disseminated 
by the government in power nor by the state schools without violating 
the basic principle of such states, that of toleration of heterodox opinions. 
Of course, in practice, the content of education under democratic rule 
contains special pleading for democracy. That is inevitable. It is the 
"climate of opinion.'' But beyond this there must be organized special 
pleading for democracies. The deliberate cultivation of private agencies 
with this objective is the only practice consistent with democratic 
principles. Such activities may be conducted by political parties, voters' 
leagues, endowed agencies and a host of various existing organizations. 
The political parties may be especially effective. As Prof, G. E. G. 
Catlin concludes, "The position is then that a democratic government, 
without forfeiting its own title to allegiance, is not entitled to use propa- 
ganda in the sense defined. It is, however, free and under an obligation 
to encourage voluntary agencies, and primarily party agencies, to put 
forward the views upon which its own authority rests. There is an 
entirely legitimate field of governmental party propaganda, as distinct 
from state propaganda. How to make that propaganda effective is the 
most important issue of current practical politics." 2 


By definition, propaganda is the dissemination of conclusions, from 
concealed sources or with concealed motives, by interested individuals or 
groups. The number of interest groups that have occasion to distribute 

1 In this discussion we cannot attempt to summarize even one particular case. 
That is a subject to be dealt with in volumes. But every student should read Propa- 
ganda and Dictatorship (Childs, H. L., ed.), Princeton University Press, 1936. 

* Propaganda and Dictatorship (H. L. Childs, ed.), p. 138. 


propaganda has increased rapidly during the past century. We have 
noted this development in the preceding chapter. Among these interest 
groups, the business organizations have been notable in their extensive 
use of advertising, publicity and propaganda. When a National Dairy 
Association has a health clown going about in the elementary schools, 
amusing the pupils with his clown stunts but interspersing these with 
doggerel and songs about the beneficial effects of milk and dairy products 
that is propaganda. 1 Thousands of business organizations, from the 
national organizations of trade associations to the local business group 
spreading rumors about its competitors, are engaged in propaganda. 
This propaganda, as well as advertising and publicity, was inevitable, 
as the business process came to depend more and more on popular 

The most notable, the most highly organized and, finally, owing to 
a Federal Trade Commission investigation, the most notorious of the 
propaganda attempts by business groups have been the propaganda 
campaigns of the utility companies. The revealing of the propaganda 
activities of the utility companies came about as incidental to a Federal 
Trade Commission investigation of the control and financing practices of 
these companies. In 1927, Senator Walsh had proposed a Congressional 
investigation of the financial activities of utility holding companies. 
This investigation was likely to be popular and politically meaningful. 
After all, there were twenty-five million users of electricity, fifteen million 
users of gas and many disgruntled investors. However, this proposed 
investigation was sidetracked, and a Federal Trade Commission investi- 
gation was substituted for it in 1928. This investigation was carried on 
during three years and resulted in a voluminous report of some 14,293 
pages. In the intent of the investigators, publicity and propaganda 
activities were of minor interest. However, these proved so spectacular 
that attention was centered more and more upon this phase of the activity 
of the utility companies. The results of this investigation were not 
widely publicized in the newspapers but have been extensively discussed 
in periodical literature and in books. 2 

The propaganda activities of the National Electric Light Association 
(national association of utility companies), as exhibited in the report of 
the Trade Commission, have been violently attacked as contrary to the 
public interest. For the most part the charge is undoubtedly true. 
But the activities of many other business groups that have not been 

1 A " stunt" of the early 1920's. 

2 Gruening, E., The Public Pays, 1931. 
Levin, J., Power Ethics, 1931. 

Raushenbush, H. 8., High Power Propaganda, New Republic, Inc., 1928. 
Thompson, C. D., Confessions of the Power Trust, 1932. 


subjected to an equally searching investigation are siniilar in intent if 
not in extent. There is nothing gained by centering attack upon one 
group. Such propaganda activities are part of a process of special 
pleading made inevitable by modern conflicts of interest and the creation 
of the means by which popular appeals may be made. However, the 
utilities propaganda has been the most extensive and the most discussed 
of the special pleadings of the business groups, so we shall briefly sketch 
the essence of their propaganda activities. 

In the United States, during the past two decades there has been a 
growing debate over public or private ownership of utilities. The great 
and inexhaustible source of power is water power. Should hydroelectric 
plants be state-owned and -directed? Should there be municipal owner- 
ship of the local systems? As the groups interested in municipal or 
state ownership increased their activities during the 1920's, the utilities 
responded with extensive campaigns of publicity and propaganda for 
private ownership. The cost of these campaigns could be charged to the 
public. Publicity directors were advised not to be sparing in their 
expenditures. In the heyday of the N.E.L.A., over thirty million dollars 
was spent annually on these campaigns for private ownership. In 1919, 
Mr. Samuel Insull called together the executives of his companies for a 
discussion of public relations. They were told to do something. Two 
years later, Mr. B. J. Mullancy, one of the vice-presidents, reported: 

"When the committee celebrated its second anniversary last April, it had 
passed the five million mark in pieces of literature distributed. Those five 
million pieces of literature, all helpful to the utility industry, were not merely 
scattered broadcast, but were definitely placed; with newspaper editors for 
themselves and their readers; with customers of public utilities; with business 
men, bankers, lawyers, employers (for their employees), teachers, preachers, 
librarians, students in colleges and high schools, mayors, members of city councils 
and village boards, public officials of all kinds, and candidates for public office. 
Members of the legislature, for example, received informative matter on public 
utility questions, not after they were elected, but before they were even 

Mr. Mullaney summarized the other activities as follows: "A news service 
goes regularly to the 900 newspapers in the state, about 150 of them dailies. 

" Speakers' bulletins are issued. . . . The bulletins furnish ample material 
to any intelligent person for sound talks on each subject and they have been 
widely used. 

"A bureau is operated to find engagements before clubs, civic associations and 
so on, for dependable speakers. . . . 

"Pertinent addresses and articles by important men, resolutions or other 
expressions by chambers of commerce and other bodies, exceptional editorials 
and the like, and special matters for customers, investors and employees have 
been printed and circulated among special classes by hundreds of thousands. 


"More than 800 Illinois high schools are regularly furnished informative 
literature for classroom theme work, and debating-society use." 1 

By the end of 1922, the N.E.L.A. had organized committees on public 
relations in the majority of the states and had divided the country into 
twelve general zones for publicity campaigns. Mr. G. B. Cortelyou, 
chairman of the advisory committee of the N.E.L.A. stated that the 
objective was "to demonstrate that the entry of Government whether 
national, state or local into this field is constitutionally unsafe, politically 
unwise, economically unsound, and competitively unfair." 2 In 1933, 
after the publication of the report of the Federal Trade Commission 
investigation of the utilities, the N.E.L.A. voluntarily disbanded on the 
decision of the fifty board members present at the meeting. The Edison 
Electric Institute was formed, and Mr. G. B. Cortelyou, who had been 
president of the N.E.L.A., became president of the Edison Electric 
Institute. However, the constitution of the institute specifically declares 
that it will not engage in propaganda, that its publicity statements will 
be accurate and will clearly indicate their source. 

The ramifying activities of the N.E.L.A. the influencing of officials, 
editors and college professors; the distortion, slanting and fabrication of 
news and information for textbook writers, for the country editor, for 
the press associations; the partial information distributed by radio and 
screen, by speakers and all means of communication ; the work of utilities 
representatives upon various organizations, the church, civic organi- 
zations, labor organizations, farm groups, women's clubs and others are 
reported in the exhibits presented in the many volumes of the report of 
the Federal Trade Commission. There is the record of the most extensive 
campaign of propaganda ever conducted by a private organization. 
Falsehoods and purposeful distortion of fact are very evident in this 
campaign. At this point we shall not consider the methods of the 
private-utility propagandists. These will be sketched in the following 

There exist the objective realities of public-utility service, rates and 
charges, stock values, watered stock, plundering holding companies and 
the various misfortunes of the utility companies of late years. These 
have become known somewhat to the general public, although the news- 
papers, owing either to principle or to a desire to secure utility advertise- 
ments, have been reticent on adverse utility news. Then there are the 
special pleadings of the utility propagandist, his assurances about the 
justice of the rates and the skill of private management and assertions 
that public ownership would be very wasteful. But the record and the 

1 Quoted by Gruening, op. dt. t p. 19. Quoted by permission of Vanguard Press, 

9 Quoted by Raushenbush, H. S. f aad-Laidler, H. W., Power Control, p. 24, 1928. 


assertions do not agree. And so, if the private-utility propagandist 
encounters increasing popular opposition to his pleas, the explanation 
may be found, not in his lack of skill as a propagandist, but in the experi- 
ence that so large a proportion of the general public has had of the charges 
made upon it for service and in the anger engendered by widespread 
losses in the common stocks of the utility companies. The propagandist 
can intensify existing attitudes, but he cannot reverse the attitudes of 
large publics when they believe that their own interests are at stake. 



Advertising may be distinguished from propaganda in that the 
sources of the advertisement are stated and the motives of the advertiser 
may be readily assumed (when the sources are concealed, as in the case 
of a food-products company publicizing its claims over the name of a 
supposed scientific research organization, we have commercial propa- 
ganda). There is a perennial debate over the effectiveness of advertising 
as a creator of markets, but it is quite obvious that advertising has been 
enormously influential in causing people to buy particular products. At 
many points commercial advertising has been far more successful in 
swaying opinions than has propaganda for causes, Aldous Huxley has 
reasonably maintained that the commercial advertisers have modified 
opinions more extensively than the political or ethical propagandists, 
not because their techniques are superior but because advertising is con- 
cerned with matters of no importance. When the political propagandist 
begins a campaign, he does so because there exist some real differences 
of opinion among the members of a general public. He deals with 
issues. But when an advertiser urges one to buy one soap or another of 
equal merit or worthlessness, or one kind of cigarette among a number of 
cheap cigarettes, and the like, there is no real issue for the consumer. 1 

As a means of spreading of information, rather than as high-pressure 
persuasion, advertising has existed from earliest times. Modern per- 
suasive advertising is a product of modern methods of communication, 
of the historically recent orientation of industry toward the production 
of masses of consumers' goods and of the development of the advertising 
business itself which further stimulates its own activity. Advertising of 
the high-pressure, persuasive type has developed in the period since 1890. 
American publicity men have been the most effective high priests of 
commercial publicity. 

It is quite obvious that advertising has been very effective in swaying 
popular opinion as to the qualities of consumers' goods and in influencing 
the choice of those goods. It was primarily the advertising man who 
lifted the product of the cigarette manufacturers from its status of lowly 

Huxley, A., "Notes on Propaganda/' Harper's, 174: 32. 


"coffin nail" to that of a national necessity. Folkways with regard to 
gum cKewing were created by publicity. The citizen's preoccupation 
with the cleanliness of his teeth and skin surfaces was developed largely 
from the information provided in the advertisements he read. The hunt 
for germs in the various orifices and on the surfaces of the body was 
stimulated by the manufacturers of germicides. Information and mis- 
information about food values have led to fashions in foods. Cereals 
used for the American breakfast have been pounded, exploded, inflated, 
sieved and woven as the " scientific " facts propounded by the advertising 
man have convinced consumers that their foods should be so treated. 
And so on. Opinions and behavior have been rapidly changed as the 
advertiser has presented his phantasmagoria of changing information. 

It is only during the past decade that the advertising process has 
been extensively discussed and attacked. A number of intellectuals, 
evidencing that they felt the appeals and wiles of the advertising man 
to be a personal insult, have indicated their revulsion in no uncertain 
terms. l The principal types of discussion have been as follows. 

First, the expenditures on advertising have been attacked as econom- 
ically wasteful. Since 1920, advertising in the United States has cost 
from one billion to two billion dollars annually. The opponents of 
modern advertising maintain that the effort and materials utilized in 
advertising might have been expended on the creation of more goods. 
The defenders of the process declare that, inasmuch as advertising 
informs potential consumers of the existence of goods and stimulates 
purchase, advertising has been responsible for a part of the consumption 
of goods. They declare that national income, as measured in dollars, is, 
therefore, increased by much more than the two billion dollars spent on 
advertising. No reputable economist has essayed the difficult, if not 
impossible, task of calculating just what the advertising expenditure 
should be to achieve the maximum distribution of goods without waste 
in the advertising process itself. On this point, pronouncements by high 
authority are few. And, of course, the critics would not desist even if 
they were convinced that in terms of counters (dollars) the total national 
income had been increased. They would turn at once to the problem of 
the relative quality of goods, as 

Second, the critics of advertising say that the appeals of the advertis- 
ing man have led to the consumption of inferior and ill-selected types of 
consumers' goods. Instances of adulteration, misrepresentation and 
quackery are stressed. The advertising man declares, "This, then, is 
the gist of the matter; somebody must determine what goods are to be 
produced. The decision must rest either with the Government or with 

1 Chase, S., The Tragedy of Waste, Chap. 7, 1926. 
Rorty, J., Our Matter'* Voice, 1934. 


consumers. As society is now organized, consumers decide. The only 
way they can make their decisions effective is through exercising their 
freedom of choice in the ordinary course of marketing. This freedom of 
choice constitutes the chief risk of business and gives rise inevitably to 
profits and losses." 1 " Little by little it seems to be recognized that this 
demand factor is not a spineless effect but a restless and irresistible 
cause. " 2 But the advertising man does not stress that the psychologi- 
cally bound consumer harried, frightened, cajoled, and misinformed is 
not free. And it is to the methods of appeal that the critic most violently 
objects, stating that, 

Third, only a small proportion of advertising is based on logical appeals 
or argumentative procedures (long-circuit appeals); the bulk of adver- 
tising is based upon appeals to the emotions, upon unworthy motives or 
upon direct suggestion (short-circuit appeals). Indeed, a large pro- 
portion of the textbooks and articles on the " psychology of advertising'* 
are devoted to the analysis of the relative strength of various appeals in 
relation to particular types of products. D. Starch notes the basic 
desires as those for food, comfort, mating, power and approbation. 3 
A. T. Poffenberger inventories the fundamental desires as those for 
drink, food, sex experience, ease, escape from danger, dominance, con- 
formity, parenthood, play, cleanliness, beauty and economy. 4 It is 
assumed, not that these desires are all innate, but simply that they are 
dominant in our culture. There are scores of such classifications in 
psychological literature dealing with advertising. Certainly the adver- 
tising man knows that however limited the capacity of the common man 
for sustained logical analysis, his responsiveness to appeals to funda- 
mental desires is almost limitless. The consumer responds to suggested 
short cuts (" learn French in ten lessons "); to the titillation of sex 
interests; to the prestige of individuals; to fear (the whole gamut of 
scare copy of the advertising of germicides, insurance and scores of 
products); to pseudo science; to numerous other widely distributed 
appeals. Certainly the advertiser has investigated desires in greater 
detail than has any other type of special pleader. And he persistently 
exploits the limited capacity of most of us for logical thinking. To his 
critics, the defender of persuasive advertising simply replies that he is 
not responsible for popular dispositions, nor is he the creator of psycho- 
logical values. He is simply utilizing those which he discovers extant 
in the general public, so that he may distribute the maximum quantity 

1 Cherington, P. T., The Consumer Looks at Advertising, p. 63, 1928. 

1 Ibid., p. 38. 

8 Starch, D., Controlling Human Behavior, p. 32, 1937. 

4 Poffenberger, A. T., Psychology in Advertising, Chap. 3, 1925. For a criticism 
of the earlier desire inventories, see Link, H. C., New Psychology of Selling and Adver- 
tising, 1932. 


of goojls. And many of these goods though, he sometimes admits, not 
all of them add to the general standard of living. Moreover, the adver- 
tiser sometimes defiantly asks his critics to answer his contention that 
the advertising of many products creates values other than those of the 
immediate utility of the product. (A girl buying a beauty product may 
not be made beautiful thereby, but the advertiser helps to kindle hope.) 
The general issue is fairly clear. The advertising man is not responsible 
for societal values. But he does at times accentuate values that the 
moralist deplores. However, it is a waste of time to attack the adver- 
tisers personally. Certain of their more extreme activities, especially 
direct falsehoods, may be regulated in the public interest. Exaggeration, 
misleading implications, unfounded scientific claims, the use of question- 
able testimonials, and the like, may be somewhat more carefully regulated 
in the near future. That is all. Either that, or a dictatorship of con- 
sumption. But any interested minority may attempt to educate the 
general public in values in consumption. 

Fourth, the critic also accuses the advertising man of vulgarity, defac- 
ing the landscape, a low level of aesthetic appeals and a number of other 
misdemeanors of which advertising is obviously guilty. But so are all 
the media of communication in a culture that stresses a low common 
denominator of popular appeal. The advertising man is likewise accused 
of furthering standardization of goods and abetting the creation of a dull 
uniformity of material things. This uniformity is peculiarly grueling to 
the aesthetically sensitive. But it is obviously an inevitable concomitant 
of mass production and distribution. 

Those who have attacked advertising, in a number of volumes rather 
widely read during the past decade, have generally left the impression 
of advertisers as low, unethical fellows involved in chicanery and deceit 
and having nefarious designs on the welfare of the general public. Obvi- 
ously, this is sometimes an accurate description. There is much untrue, 
insincere and misinformative advertising. There is much more of adver- 
tising that disseminates false impressions indirectly. Advertising is 
special pleading, and a highly competitive special pleading at that, so 
that in many an advertising campaign each side stimulates the other to 
more and more extreme statements. If advertising is really effective, it 
leads consumers to make purchases they would not have made without 
having seen the advertisement. In the quest for these purchasers the 
advertising man has used every type of appeal that he found to be 
effective. He is limited only by the attitudes of the general public, by 
very fragmentary legal restrictions and by the rudimentary ethics of his 
profession. By experience and by knowledge of the general culture 
values he learns what will be believed. The recent attempt to place 
greater legal restrictions upon his claims has not yet been successful. To 


some extent, business has regulated the content of advertising. Many 
of the more blatant untruths have been eliminated from some types of 
advertising, owing to the activities of business groups with a "Truth in 
Advertising" slogan. 1 But, of course, distortions of the truth in the 
special pleading of contemporary advertising is a part of the very fabric 
of our modern competitive economy. As long as goods compete for 
markets, the art of "puffing" will play an important part. And granted 
the wide variety of economic goods for modern consumers, informative 
advertising would exist under any economy or any political system. 

But, just as we have done in the preceding discussion, the critic of 
advertising stresses the more obvious and dramatically antisocial activi- 
ties of the advertising man. Many of the large advertisers make and 
sell products of dubious or little value. But, of course, the bulk of 
advertising consists of special pleading for articles that have raised the 
standard of living of modern populations. If there is great waste in 
the competitive clamor about wares, it is also true that this clamor has 
been in part responsible for the swift acceleration of the production of 
consumers' goods. Certainly, advertising has influenced popular opin- 
ions about these goods. It has forced the national economy into the 
present mold. The selection of which goods shall be produced is in part 
determined by existing popular wants and, in part, by wants that are to 
some extent created by the advertiser. But in any case, either when 
the advertiser verbalizes existing wants or when he tells a public what it 
should want, the new importance of popular opinion is indicated by the 
assiduous cultivation of large publics since the closing decades of the 
nineteenth century. 

Propaganda is pervasive in our time. There has always been some 
propaganda, but in the modern age it is organized, intentional and 
relatively more effective. Moreover, modern propaganda emphasizes 
distortion and derationalizes the popular opinion process. It usually 
does not help the individual to come to a rational understanding of public 
issues but rather attempts to induce him to follow nonrational emotional 
drives. All fields of human activity in which special interest groups 
exist, and there are constantly more of them, are the areas in which the 
propagandist operates. Obfuscation is somewhat more a science than in 
preceding ages. Students of government, of economic groups and of 
many varieties of societal organization are giving increased attention to 
the problems of propaganda. And certainly the student has reason to 
scrutinize many of his sources of information with a jaundiced eye. 
Suspicion is rife. Likewise, the general public has had some inkling of 

1 See the discussion of the growth of this movement as reported in the lectures 
Ethical Problems of Modern Advertising, Ronald Press Company, 1931. 


the varieties of special pleading. In the zeal to brand opponents as 
" propagandists" publicity has been given to the process by many groups. 
Newspapers write of " foreign propaganda/' and economic groups decry 
the " propaganda" of their opponents. There has been a great deal of 
propaganda against propaganda. And with reason. But there is some 
necessity for students to be cautious not to overemphasize the issue of 
propaganda and not to develop the illusion that we live entirely in a 
world of propaganda myths. Suspicion is a mushroom growth. It is 
possible to get in the state of mind of the two extremely canny business 
rivals who met on a Continental railway train. After some chatter in 
which each attempted to learn the destination of the other, one volun- 
teered the information that he was going to Vienna. The other eyed 
him suspiciously. "Now why do you not tell me the truth?" he asked. 
u You know you tell me you are going to Vienna so that I will think you 
are going to Cracow, when you know very well you are really going to 
Vienna. Why do you lie to me?" 


A considerable body of information has been accumulated about the 
psychology of advertising economic goods. In a partial sense there is a 
science of advertising. There is much verifiable psychological knowledge 
in this field. Many problems of attention, as related to advertising, 
have been investigated; categories of appeals and the relative strength 
of human desires have been inventoried for advertising purposes; the 
psychologist can tell us much about problems relating to the magnitude, 
position, color, illustration, line and form, preferable type and the 
functioning of association in advertisements. Also, he knows something 
of the manipulation of language in advertising and selling. An expert 
in sales appeals advises his clients on preferred words and phrases in 
their advertisements and sales talks. Don't ask "if"; ask "which." 
Don 't ask whether the purchaser wants a large or small Coca Cola. Ask 
"Large one?" Don't ask "Check your oil," but question "Is your oil 
at the proper driving level?" 1 On the basis of verifiable experiment, 
a great many generalizations have been developed by the psycholo- 
gist in advertising. The propaganda process has not been so exactly 
described. There is no literature on the techniques of propaganda 
comparable with that on advertising. As yet there are practically no 
experimental data on the methods and the results of propaganda activity. 
Everyone is at times a propagandist in his daily life experience. And, 
although we understand a great deal about such person-to-person rela- 
tionships, there is no compact handbook of generalizations about effective 
manipulative activities. Propaganda campaigns for groups and organ- 
izations are conducted by professional special pleaders, recruited princi- 
pally from former newspaper and publicity men. Many of these have a 
vast experience in attempting to manipulate popular attitudes. But 
they have not been successful in providing generalizations about the 
process. The reason is quite apparent. The propagandist attempts to 
manipulate attitudes about political, economic and other controversial 
issues. The situation in which each issue occurs is individually unique. 
There are infinite nuances of situation and group attitudes, whereas a 
great deal of advertising deals with oft-repeated situations. Therefore, 

1 Littell, R., " When Every Clerk Uses the Right Word," Readers 9 Digest, February, 
1038, pp. 40-43. 



at least a portion of advertising may be conducted according to rules. 
But there is an art and not a science of propaganda. When the students 
and practitioners of propaganda attempt generalizations, the unsatis- 
factory nature of the results is evident. The generalizations are too 
general, the exceptions too apparent. 1 Nevertheless, we shall essay a 
discussion of the generalizations that do exist. 


In the confusion of contemporary ideas and amidst the prevailing 
mental insecurities, propagandas perform the dual functions of catharsis 
and readjustment. 2 Tensions may be partially relieved by mass preoc- 
cupation with the symbols that the propagandist provides. There may 
be little or no change in the objective reality, and yet a partial catharsis 
results from adherence to a particular propaganda. Thus, propaganda 
for many causes cannot reasonably be expected to result in the changes 
that are demanded, but the emotional zeal of the adherents may prove 
an end in itself. The Townsend movement and the late Senator Long's 
" share the wealth" agitation could not be expected to be economically 
practicable in the form in which they were presented, but they could 
and have resulted in release of tensions through "wishful thinking/' 
And, incidentally, a leadership achieved prestige. On the other hand, 
propaganda may be directed toward definite and explicitly stated read- 
justment. The utility propaganda had such an aim, the minimizing of 
the demand for government ownership. The techniques of propaganda 
will vary, depending upon whether that propaganda may reasona- 
bly expect merely a psychological or an objective response. Unfortu- 
nately, we do not now possess a descriptive and analytical literature of 
specific propaganda campaigns that is extensive or detailed enough to 
permit of logical classifications of types of propaganda and their respec- 
tive techniques. Therefore, we must content ourselves with generaliza- 
tions sufficiently inclusive to apply to all types. 

One such generalization is that the most effective propaganda is 
conducted by those who are likewise in an authoritarian position that 
simultaneously permits of censorship. Competition is eliminated. 
Propaganda fills the gaps left by the censor. Hence the success of 
propaganda during the World War. Our foreign correspondents have 
persistently depreciated what they consider as the overlauded astuteness 

1 Doob, L. W., Propaganda, 1935. 

Lasswell, H. D., Propaganda Technique in the World War, 1927. 
Lumley, F. E., The Propaganda Menace, 1933. 

Monthly letters, Institute for Propaganda Analysis, 132 Morningside Drive, 
New York City. 

2 This useful characterization is suggested by Lasswell, H. D,, in Propaganda and 
Pictatorship (Cbilds, H. L. t ed.), p. Ill, 1936. 


of the propaganda ministries of modern authoritarian states, declaring 
that without censorship powers these propagandists would be relatively 
ineffectual. Despite the friendliness of most of the newspapers, the 
utilities propagandists of the late 1920's were largely unsuccessful 
because they could not control all the channels of communication. 

Another generalization is that propagandists persistently appeal 
to the emotions of their subjects. Argument and discussion openly 
carried on is one thing; veiled propaganda appealing to hate, fear, pride, 
selfishness, greed, and the like, is a quite different process, short-circuit- 
ing discussion of the issue. The propagandist mobilizes hatred of the 
enemy, appeals to the fear that economic chaos would result from the 
opponent's plans, taps the popular allegiances to some loved symbol, 
and the like. The propagandist does not respect the human mind. He 
holds man's reason cheap, and he attempts to deprive man of the oppor- 
tunity to display logical processes. He is not unique in this attempt. 
Various other types of special .pleaders likewise predominantly use 
emotional appeals. An intelligent minority which recognizes propa- 
ganda as such can sometimes discount a part of the emotional appeals, 
attempt to obtain additional information, partially identify themselves 
with the opponents, read the literature of the other side and attempt to 
become intelligent partisans. If he has not hopelessly alienated this 
group, the propagandist must then prepare appeals calculated to persuade 
its members. For example, he may utilize the authority of economists, 
historians and other social theorists to distribute appealing rationaliza- 
tions; he may prepare subtle, but partial, arguments; he may confuse 
with statistics, and so forth. But most of his subjects respond to direct 
emotional appeals, if these are linked with existing attitudes. 

Almost inevitably, the propagandist becomes a liar. He not only 
distorts, he also fabricates. He is usually driven by the logic of events 
to more and more extreme falsehoods. He creates stories about the 
opposing leaders, falsifies statistics, creates news stories, starts rumors 
and in many ways falsifies the process of discussion. Of course, such 
falsification is most effective if it cannot be contradicted because the 
means of communication are controlled. This is obviously true of much 
national propaganda in wartime. "When war is declared, Truth is the 
first casualty." "Falsehood is a recognized and extremely useful 
weapon in warfare, and every country uses it quite deliberately to 
deceive its own people, to attract neutrals, and to mislead the enemy." 1 
Of course, lying is proportional to mass credulity. Sir Arthur Ponsonby 
has collected a number of the official and unofficial falsehoods of the 

1 Ponsonby, A., Falsehood in Wartime, p. 13, 1928. 
See also: Irwin, W., Propaganda and the News, Chaps. 11-13, 1936. 
Viereck. O. S., Spreading Germ* of Hate, 1930. 


English in the World War. Among these were the atrocity stories, so 
numerous that they have not to this day been completely classified by 
historians. They were circulated by word of mouth, leaflets, speeches 
and newspapers. Stories of assaults, torturings, rapes, attacks on 
children, and the like, were widely circulated. The German army as 
invaders were at a disadvantage in the dissemination of such stories. 
Their propagandists could not reply in kind. Of course, amidst the 
brutalities of war, such things do happen. But the majority of the 
atrocity stories were outright fabrications. Some of these stories were 
officially created; few were denied. Such stories have been created in 
most wars throughout history, but those of the World War were impressive 
in bulk. The contemporary student is so well acquainted with official 
lying in wartime that we need not stop at this point to relate specific 
stories. Faked photographs, the doctoring of official papers, the false- 
hoods about the enemy's strength and morale, the ascribing of satanic 
motives were commonplace techniques of propaganda bureaus in modern 
warfare. The crop of propagandists' lies in wartime can be large because 
the means of communication are controlled, the general population has 
developed a maximum will to believe and no substantial opposition 
exists. The peacetime propagandist must be more careful. The 
propagandist who falsifies must make peace with himself. The difficulty 
experienced by some of the World War propagandists is evidenced by 
the rueful way in which they confessed their falsehoods after the conclu- 
sion of the War. 

Just as individuals in face-to-face conversation exaggerate the stories, 
rumors and information that they transmit so that they may gain 
effectiveness, the propagandist exaggerates in the interest of his cause. 
The publicity men of political parties exaggerate the derelictions of their 
opponents, the propagandists for grain manipulators exaggerate the news 
reports of crop shortages, the military propagandist exaggerates victories, 
the actress's publicity man exaggerates the value of her stolen jewels 
indeed, all special pleaders exaggerate at times. In this activity they 
are aided by the popular tendency to embellish an account. In the 
copying of newspaper stories the account is sometimes garbled into an 
exaggerated form. This is often intentional. The processes of exag- 
geration are inevitable, but the propagandist consciously distorts in this 
way, thereby adding to existing confusions. 

The propagandist further distorts by selection. He is not concerned 
with providing impartial data. He has a cause to plead. His problem 
consists principally in selecting such information and such social sug- 
gestions as are best calculated to evoke the desired responses. A propa- 
gandist for the Federation of Utility Investors (renamed American 
Federation of Investors) cannot be expected to disseminate impartial 


information about the TVA. Selection and particular emphasis become 
so much a commonplace in the propagandist's experience that after a 
time he is not consciously aware of his choices. Just as a veteran news- 
paper correspondent "slants" the news in the direction of his employer's 
or readers' attitudes, so the propagandist plays up materials favorable 
to his cause and underemphasizes the rest. The propagandist's selection 
of his comments upon any controversial issue will be determined by what 
he can successfully work into any medium of communication. In the 
total situation in which he operates there may be very little that he can 
inject into communication. When St. Thomas' Church in New York 
was built, a waggish young architect worked in a dollar sign over the 
bride's door and three moneybags initialed J. P. M. over the choir stalls. 
Anything more obvious would have been discovered even sooner than 
were these items. In extreme instances the propagandist may work 
painstakingly to introduce one item favorable to his cause. Twenty 
years ago, the late Ivy Lee inspired the writing of an article about the 
Cathedral of St. John the Divine for the New York Times Magazine, so 
that he could incorporate therein a single phrase. This phrase declared 
that the metal work of the cathedral was made of copper, "The Metal 
of the Ages." At that time, Mr. Lee was a propagandist for the copper 
producers. These are unusual illustrations. However, in his more 
normal activities, the propagandist persistently selects items, slants the 
news and omits data favorable to the opposition. He is the foe of even 
a relative degree of impartiality. 

One of the oldest devices of the manipulator of public opinion is the 
distraction of attention by the use, among others, of the "red-herring" 
technique. The propagandist finds it invaluable. In face-to-face 
argument, a simple device for confuting an opponent is to lead him off 
the track of the principal issue into the discussion of some trivial point or 
to divert him into the discussion of something quite beside the point at 
issue. State other propositions, inject irrelevant objections and change 
the issues. Just so, in dealing with publics, the propagandist frequently 
attempts to distract attention from items dangerous to his cause. The 
methods of popular diversion are of infinite variety. Inject humor and 
satire, call names, divert attention to personalities, change the issue, 
center attention upon unimportant and harmless matters or distract the 
group's attention to points favorable to one's own position. The hard- 
pressed employer in labor disputes may divert attention to welfare 
activities; publics are distracted from political issues by "bread and 
circuses"; the opponents of woman suffrage turn attention upon the role 
of woman as mother and homemaker; the political boss diverts attention 
from political issues to his party's beneficences; the special pleader ques- 
tions the honesty and motives of his opponents. Of course, not only 


the hidden propagandist, but all special pleaders, use this device at 

The "propagandist eternally repeats his assertions. The value of 
repetition has been experimentally tested by advertisers, as any volume 
on the psychology of advertising will attest. "If you have an idea to 
put over, keep presenting it incessantly. Keep talking (or printing) 
systematically and persistently. ' n In Mein Kampf, Hitler states, "The 
intelligence of the masses is small, their forgetfulness is great. Effective 
propaganda must be confined to merely a few issues which can be easily 
assimilated. Since' the masses are slow to comprehend, they must be 
told the same thing a thousand times." One need not be a cynical 
commentator on the mental limitations of the common man functioning 
in large groups to realize the psychological effectiveness of repetition. 

It is a propagandist's rule to avoid argument. Dr. Goebbels, major 
propaganda chief of Germany, has this to say. "The ordinary man 
hates nothing more than two-sidedness, to be called upon to consider 
this as well as that. The masses think simply and primitively. They 
love to generalize complicated situations and from their generalizations 
to draw clear and uncompromising conclusions/ 72 In this rule he has 
the blessing of the psychologist. Prof. Dunlap writes, "Avoid argument 
as a general thing. Do not admit there is any 'other side' and in all 
statements scrupulously avoid arousing reflection or associated ideas, 
except those which are favorable. Reserve argument for the small class 
of people who depend on logical processes, or as a means of attracting 
the attention of those with whom you are arguing. " s 

The contemporary propagandist can and does tap all the accumulated 
lore and science regarding the most efficacious methods of attracting 
attention. The principles of attention are too many and varied for 
discussion at this point. Startling statements, sudden appeals, color, 
size and position of published items, novelty, appeals to interests, an 
infinite variety of direct sensory stimuli, the spectacular, the creation of 
conflicts, and the like, are standard methods of attracting attention. 

However, such generalizations as we have been enunciating are of 
but limited usefulness to the propagandist or to those who would under- 
stand the propaganda process, because they must be applied with 
infinite variation to the particular situations. As Dr. Goebbels has said, 
"Propaganda in itself has no fundamental method. It has only purpose 
the conquest of the masses. Every means that serves this end is good/' 
The propagandist must adapt his methods and the content of his 
appeals to the common social attitudes of his subjects. For example, 

1 Rule number one of propaganda, in Dunlap, K., Social Psychology, p. 256, 1925. 
* Quoted in New York Times Mag., p. 27, Feb. 14, 1937. 
3 Dunlap, op. at., p. 256. 


when dealing with large publics in the United States, he ordinarily 
should not appeal to avowed self-interest on the part of his subjects. 
Such publics have long been nurtured in an atmosphere of professed 
unselfishness. Hence, the development of special pleading or of a 
program of action based upon consciously selfish interests, the pursuit 
of individual or group self-interest, is repugnant in a culture that, at 
least verbally, subscribes to the larger group interests. Therefore, any 
programs of self-interest must usually be camouflaged with a protective 
coating of rationalizations which interpret them in terms of the values 
of the prevailing mores. This is necessary, not only for the popular 
acceptance of the propagandist's statements, but also for the comfort of 
really self-interested minorities. For, incorporated in the attitudes of 
these, too, are the altruistic catchwords and democratic pretensions. 

The propagandist must know the prevailing attitudes of his subjects. 
And he must, in every possible way, connect with their dominant atti- 
tudes the idea that he wishes to promulgate. Many a propaganda item 
has failed of acceptance because of the ineptitude of the propagandist who 
has failed to inform himself of some deep-seated prejudice. Communist 
propaganda in the United States has often failed to consider the wide- 
spread aversion of masses of Americans to the identification of themselves 
as "the proletariat." Class appeals have often been futile in the devel- 
opment of the American labor movement. Lasswell recounts the failure 
of German propaganda to arouse the desired response with its account of 
Belgian Roman Catholic priests' having urged their parishioners to 
bushwack the invading German troops; the failure was due to the 
prejudice of Roman Catholics both abroad and in Germany against 
believing that priests would give such advice. The propagandist must 
use traditional prejudices to which he may relate his cause and be careful 
not to run afoul of deeply imbedded adverse prejudices. B. Russell 
maintains that successful propaganda essentially makes people hold 
more emotionally to their opinions and beliefs, rather than develop new 
opinions. L. W. Doob states, "The propagandist employs attitudes 
that are already dominant as related attitudes or he arouses related 
attitudes that remain dominant over a period of time." "The propa- 
gandist varies the content of his stimulus situation, in order to arouse 
related attitudes in different people, and, by changing their stereo- 
types, to construct new attitudes in others through positive sugges- 
tion." 1 For example, the propagandist knows, as does the advertising 
man, the value of relating his cause to popular figures having pres- 
tige. Attitudes favorable to these prominent personages already 
exist. And so, such personages are urged to say a few words, be four-min- 
ute speakers, endorse a cause, sign a proclamation, enunciate the desired 
1 Doob, op. cit., p. 414. 


rationalizations. We have referred to propaganda as an art and not a 
science, because there can be no hard-and-fast rules that may be experi- 
mentally verified about such procedures. The propagandist must 
study existing popular beliefs and opinions, so that he may know which 
ideas, words, symbols, persons and organizations the majorities of a 
population are for and against. Then he relates his cause to the favorable 
attitudes, usually stating the relationship in very general and non- 
specific ways. Thus he hopes to stimulate decision and not debate. 

What are the dominant attitudes? In an earlier discussion we have 
considered the difficulties of classifying attitudes. No two social scien- 
tists have agreed on a list of dominant social attitudes. The social 
theorist in his descriptions of American culture persistently turns to 
the enumeration of popular attitudes. But no list is even approximately 
complete. The Lynds, in their latest volume on Middletown, have 
courageously attempted a classification of the things that this mid-west 
industrial community is for and against. 1 By and large Middletown 
believes in kindness, honesty, friendliness, good fellowship, success, 
character, unpretentiousness, common sense, steadiness, progress, slow 
change, good will, optimism, enterprise, hard work, community spirit, 
loyalty, small business, economic processes as a natural order, initiative, 
saving, the monogamous family, philanthropy and that women are 
purer than men, that childhood is a happy time, that a man who is still 
able to work should not retire, that America is the freest country on 
earth, and so on, through a list some fifteen pages in length. This list 
is based upon observation, and shrewd observation at that, but of course 
we do not know what proportion of the total population holds each of 
these general attitudes or the intensity of conviction in each case. But 
the contemporary propagandist cannot await more exact description. 
He uses such classifications as he may create or obtain and attempts to 
suggest the relationship of his cause to such dominant attitudes as he 
may reasonably expect to tap. But, clearly, the propagandist must be 
intimately acquainted with the cultural values and the general individual 
attitudes, with popular beliefs and majority opinions. He desires inte- 
gration with these attitudes and then, as a next step, action favorable 
to his cause. 

As the technique of propaganda is the manipulation of symbols, the 
propagandist must have a thorough knowledge of the symbols whereby 
attitudes are expressed. Incomplete knowledge of some of the nuances 
of symbol meaning and popular emotional linkages to these symbols has 
led to fatal errors in appeal. This problem is especially acute when the 
propagandist is dealing with people of a culture alien to his own. He 
must then rely upon the advice of those intimately acquainted with the 
, R. S., and Lynd, H. M., Middletown in Transition, pp. 403-419, 1937. 


meanings of words (the dictionary is inadequate for popular meanings), 
with the popular responses to pictorial representation and with all other 
types of symbols. 

The propagandist must be simple, clear and precise. He may attempt 
to provide a spurious but convincing clarity to the workings of his 
program by giving opportunity for first-hand contacts with his program* 
Hence, the propaganda tours through Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany or 
Fascist Italy. He may simplify with exhibits, personalizations, simple 
statistics, oversimplified definitions, slogans, concretions of abstractions, 
catechisms of questions and answers, dramatizations, stories and illustra- 
tions, pictures, specific instances, demonstrations, familiar terms, and the 
like. 1 Most of these procedures for simplification appear in any well- 
organized propaganda campaign. Quantifications are increasingly used, 
as general publics are even less competent in analyzing statistics than 
in winnowing out significant facts from verbal presentations. Yet there 
is a widespread faith that figures do not lie. In the national campaign 
of 1936, the Republican party used appeals by figures more extensively 
than in the publicity of any preceding campaign. 2 Such simplifications 
arc frequently fatal to impartial consideration but are usually useful in 
the dissemination of conclusions. 

But, as we stated at the beginning of this discussion of propaganda 
techniques, we cannot satisfactorily generalize about the propaganda 
processes. The propagandist exercises his ingenuity upon a particular 
situation, and, if he is a successful propagandist, his methods are infinitely 
adaptable to situations. He utilizes whatever he can of the techniques 
of publicity that, at the same time, permit him to remain concealed. 
He works through the various secondary means of communication, the 
press, printed forms in general, radio, pictures, inspired rumors, and the 
like. As he must appeal to large groups, there is a premium upon sim- 
plicity, emotional appeals and direct suggestions. He seeks to exert 
social pressures but works indirectly. His aim is the widespread accept- 
ance of his conclusions. But he is limited by his own inadequacies, by 
the existing "field structure/' by existing ignorances, by popular preju- 
dices, by the limitations upon his control of and his access to the various 
media of communication and by his opportunities to obtain a monopoly 
by the silencing of oppositions by censorship. Finally, the more success- 

1 See the discussion of the methods of making complex and abstract meanings 
simple and concrete in Bonney, M. E., Technique of Appeal and of Social Control, 
thesis, Columbia University, 1937. 

'Casey, R. D., "Republican Propaganda in the 1936 Campaign/' Pub. Opin. 
Quar., 1:2:27-43. 

On the danger and fallacies in the popular use of statistics, see: Cohen, M. R., 
and Nagel, E., An Introduction to Logic and Scientific Method, pp. 316-323, 1934; 
Lehman* H. C., and Witty, P. A., "Statistics Show," Jour. Ed. Psychol. t 19: 176-184;. 


ful propagandists usually are able to convince themselves. A part of 
the technique of propaganda consists of the ways in which the propa- 
gandist Manipulates his own attitudes and values. If he cannot inte- 
grate his own position, he usually lacks zeal. Skillful propagandists 
may have doubts, but these doubts must not loom too large in their 
daily work. The personal characteristics of the propagandist have not 
yet been adequately limned. l 


The propagandist uses all the media of communication to which he 
can obtain access and which are adapted to his appeals in a particular 
campaign. Printed materials, newspapers, speeches, symbolic insignia, 
motion pictures, radio and all other ways of transmitting appeals are 
used. In the course of our discussions of the newspaper, motion pictures, 
graphic arts and radio in the later chapters of this work we shall consider 
illustrations of the activities of propagandists in those fields. 

Methods are adapted to the situation in the particular propaganda 
campaign. During the last year of the World War the French invented 
a hand grenade that carried leaflets 600 feet in a favorable wind. The 
British developed a shell that would carry leaflets 10 miles into the 
enemy lines. During the last year the English manufactured over 2000 
propaganda balloons per week. Each of these balloons carried 1000 
leaflets into Germany. In a single month, October, 1918, Lord 
Northcliffe's propaganda department dropped 5,360,000 leaflets in 
Germany. 2 

Let us illustrate the propagandist's use of the various channels of 
communication in a single campaign, that of the utility companies 
between 1924 and 1930. The utility propaganda probably did more 
harm than good to the cause of the privately owned utilities. But 
that was because of the expos6 of the utility propaganda by the Federal 
Trade Commission. The propaganda campaign itself was extensive and 
intensive. We cannot follow the tortuous trail of the utility companies' 
special pleading. But we may note a few items on their use of various 
means of communication. There were extensive speaking campaigns 
with speakers whose association with the utility companies often was not 
disclosed. In one year, 1927, there were 2450 talks given in Oklahoma to 
audiences estimated at 250,000; in Texas, 1525 talks to audiences of 
125,000; Louisiana, 410 talks to 45,000 people; Arkansas, 65 speeches to 
6000 people; Mississippi, 55 speeches to 5000 listeners; in Illinois, Michi- 

1 Lasswell, H. D., has tentatively approached this problem in, "The Person: Sub- 
ject and Object of Propaganda," Ann. Am. Acod Pol Soc. Sci., 179: 187-193. 
* Viereek, op. cit., p. 205. 


gan, Wisconsin and Indiana, 7147 speeches to 1,309,762 people. 1 Clubs 
and organizations of various kinds were furnished speakers, special liter- 
ature and motion pictures and were approached in other ways. Women's 
clubs and farm organizations were studied and appealed to in an organ- 
ized fashion. Domestic-science teachers explained cooking, but also 
defended rates and spoke for private ownership. Pamphleteering was 
extensive. There were booklets entitled Government Ownership Advocates 
Shade from Deepest Red to Mauve, Russia Tried It Too, Utility Securities 
Are Pronounced Best, Six Hundred and Sixty City-owned Plants Abandoned, 
and scores of others. Newspapers were bribed, bought and bluffed. 2 
Mr. B. J. Mullaney of the Insull publicity organization wrote, "We are 
trying to promulgate the idea rapidly among the newspapers that public 
utilities offer a very fertile field for developing regular, prompt-paying 
customers of their advertising columns. When that idea penetrates 
the United States, unless human nature has changed, we will have less 
trouble with the newspapers than we had in the past/' 3 In 1927, the 
electric light and power companies planned to spend no less than ten 
million dollars for newspaper advertising, and the utilities in general, 
around twenty-eight million dollars. A large section of the press suc- 
cumbed to the utility advertising and threats. 

The schools were invaded extensively. The objective was to con- 
vince students, especially in the secondary schools, of the superiority of 
private over public ownership. To do this, the utilities managed to 
insinuate special textbooks and pamphlets into the public schools of 
many states. A Utilities Catechism was used in 76 schools in Connecticut. 
In Texas, 82,000 items were sent to high schools in one year. In New 
York, 44,191 copies of one pamphlet were sent to 490 schools. 4 In 
Ohio, a utility information committee published a textbook entitled 
Aladdins of Industry, of which 190,000 copies were distributed in the 
schools. The record of many universities and colleges is none too savory 
in relation to the extensive utility drives of 1925 to 1930. These cam- 
paigns made effective use of radio talks and programs to publicize pri- 
vate-ownership arguments. A few motion pictures dealing with rural 
electrification were made, but these were not an important part of the 
utility propaganda. Gossip campaigns and rumors spread by utilities' 
employees were sometimes used. There were even songs favoring private 
ownership which were used in some public meetings, and especially in the 
meetings of the employees of the utility companies. All possible means 
of communication were utilized, and most of the possible appeals were 

1 Gruening, E., The Public Pays, p. 132, 1931. 

2 Seldcs, G., Freedom of the Press, Chap. 4, 1935. 
* Gruening, op. 7., p. 166. 

4 Levin, J., Power Ethics, p. 144, 1931. 


made. The Federal Trade Commission reports on the methods of these 
propaganda campaigns are worthy of a more widespread perusal than 
has been accorded to them. 

We shall not attempt at this point to illustrate the role of propaganda 
in the various channels of communication. But we shall comment briefly 
on propaganda in education and in literature. 


The practitioners and directors of special pleading have long since 
recognized the importance of impressing upon the young their arguments, 
suggestions and partial information. Condition the very young to 
respond to the symbols of your special cause, teach him your "truths" 
and in adult life he will be likely to view them as self-evident. The 
leaders of the Roman Catholic church have often spoken of the impor- 
tance of inculcation of responses to religious symbols during the first few 
years of life and have adapted parts of their religious training to this end. 
Lenin said, "Give me four years to teach the children, and the seed I 
have sown will never be uprooted. " Mussolini writes that the textbook 
and the musket make the perfect Fascist. Authoritarian leaders have 
ever been preoccupied with the indoctrination of the young. But the 
freer political systems have as the avowed objective of education, the 
development of the intellect, however far short they may fall from this 
ideal in practice. That people must think and think for themselves, 
and that they can be trained to do so, is the assumption and the faith 
of democracy. But "fascism is war on intellectualism," says G. Gentile, 
philosopher of authoritarianism. Regardless of the underlying educa- 
tional philosophy, it is obviously true that every educational system 
indoctrinates, at least in part, the prevailing values within each culture. 
Nationalism, the prevailing economic system, the traditional history, the 
popular ethical values and belief in democratic institutions are inculcated 
in American schools. Any formal systematic training of the young will, 
perforce, have some frame of reference. But under the freer systems, 
some diversity of presentation occurs, whereas systems controlled by 
authoritarian states regulate the minutiae. There is an essential differ- 
ence between inculcating a general philosophy and indocrinating details. 

Some propagandistic indoctrination occurs in every formal school 
system. Indeed, the part played by propaganda has been increasing 
since the Reformation. The Jesuits, acquiring control over education, 
perfected techniques of indoctrination. The Protestants did likewise. 
In the eighteenth century, revolutionary propaganda, nationalistic 
appeals and the taking of sides on the Napoleonic issue created additional 
special pleading. 1 With the development of democracies, the values of 

* Russell, B., Education and the Modern World, p. 209, 193?. 


the general population were increasingly impressed upon education. 
Legislative control of curriculums increased, based on the theory that the 
taxpayers have the right to decide what should be taught. This led to a 
series of struggles between teachers and legislators. One of the recent 
expressions of this struggle is the teachers'-oath laws. Over a score of 
states in America have such statutes. But a gap appears between the 
values of the professional educator and those of the general public on 
many subjects other than that of nationalism. One of the more comba- 
tive university presidents has recently denounced the popular quest for 
vocational training rather than for training in how to think. 1 Then, 
there are the numerous special interest groups, patriotic, reform, pro- 
fessional and economic, which have attempted partly to control curricu- 
lum content. The problem is ever more involved under democracies. 

Educators intermittently attempt to resist the organized interest 
groups and the advertisers. They declare that education aims at inde- 
pendence of judgment. One group of educators has argued that: (1) 
The propagandist and the educator represent two extremes. The pur- 
pose of the propagandist is to teach what to think, whereas the guiding 
purpose of the educator is to teach how to think. The function of the 
school in developing the child 's critical powers will be hopelessly hindered 
if its doors are left open to the propagandist. Children lack power 
of critical judgment. This must be developed in them. (2) The 
schools of America are founded upon the principle of control by all 
the people rather than by classes or groups. (3) The present course 
of study is already overcrowded. (4) There is an imperative need for 
an adult citizenry capable of protecting itself from the appeals of propa- 
ganda. The schools must prepare students to deal discriminatingly with 
information. 2 It is likely that courses of study directed toward the 
unmasking of propaganda will shortly appear in the secondary schools. 1 
Propaganda is a form of attempted exploitation. Many teachers are 
eager to unmask at least a part of the propaganda appeals, the part 
with which they do not agree. 

The best historical sketches of special interests in the schools have 
been written by B. L. Pierce and B. Raup. 4 In her latest book, Dr. 

1 Hutchins, R. M., "We are Getting No Brighter" (first of a series of four articles), 
Sat. Eve. Post, Dec. 11, 1937. 

1 Report of the Wisconsin Teachers' Association, 1930. 

* The Institute for Propaganda Analysis, a small subsidized group studying prop- 
aganda methods, now sends a monthly newsletter to teachers. In the first issue 
this group stated, "There are three possible ways to deal with propaganda. You 
can suppress it, meet it with counter propaganda, or analyze it and try to see how 
much truth there is in it." 

Pierce, B. L., Public Opinion and the Teaching of History, 1926; Citizens? Organi- 
zations and the Civic Training of Youth, 1933. 

Raup, B., Education and Organized Interests in America, 1936. 


Pierce reports briefly on some 204 organizations; Raup discusses 95, of 
which 41^ duplicate the Pierce list. There are patriotic organizations, 
military groups, peace organizations, business and labor groups, prohi- 
bition and antiprohibition organizations and others, all of whom have 
attempted or are attempting to carry on special pleading in the schools, 
often by means of propaganda. Many economic groups have used the 
schools for advertising or for pleading a special cause. Of these, the 
utility companies have received the most notoriety. Today, most 
administrators scrutinize more carefully than they did in the past the 
swelling tide of propaganda materials. However, all too frequently our 
superintendents give way before the pressures of well-organized groups. 
The media of propaganda in the schools have been listed by the Wisconsin 
Teachers' Association as follows: 

1. Visual Education Materials: 

a. Posters developing some slogan or principle. 

6. Wall-charts, intended to help explain the operation or use of tools, 
machinery, etc. 

c. Motion picture films. 

d. Lantern Slides. 

e. Exhibits. 

/. Clipsheets and other bulletin board materials. 

2. Free School Supplies: 

a. Book covers. These are often supplied free and carry advertising of 
various types. 

b. Calendars. 

c. Rulers, pens, pencils, blotters, and a large variety of small inexpensive 
school supplies. These generally carry advertising of the agency which 
supplies them. 

3. Books and Pamphlets: 

a. Pamphlets and catechisms describing values, use, or manufacture of 
various products, or urging the adoption of certain ideas, or supplying 
information about various organizations. 

b. Study helps and teachers' manuals. 

c. Books and magazines for teachers. 

4. Contests: 

a. Essay contests. 

b. Oratorical contests. 

c. Poster-making contests. 

d. Health contests. 

e. Penmanship contests. 
/. Typing contests. 

g. Music contests. 

A. Spelling contests. 

i. Athletic contests of certain types. 

j. Salesmanship contests. 


k. Thrift contests. 

L Soap sculpture contests. 1 

It is evident that a great deal of propaganda has been injected into 
the school systems by special interest groups. Educators have been 
increasingly agitated by a growing awareness of this fact and, latterly, 
have been attempting to study the propagandist's activities. Dr. 
Pierce 's survey was carried on under the direction of the Commission on 
the Social Studies which was set up by the American Historical Associ- 
ation. A number of state educational associations have prepared reports 
on this topic. The Social Science Research Council has created a Com- 
mittee on Propaganda. The National Educational Association has pre- 
pared rules for the guidance of teachers and executives. 2 

The educators are in revolt against much of the propaganda of special 
interest groups. But what of the educators themselves? Should they 
become propagandists for viewpoints of which they approve? Should 
they organize counterpropaganda? Should they, in so far as possible, 
teach their students techniques for discovering and resisting propaganda? 

The traditional American view has been that education consisted 
primarily of the acquisition of knowledge, the purveying and learning of 
facts. In practice there often has been but little opportunity for crit- 
ical analysis and enlightened skepticism. So-called " objective " and 
" impartial" teaching has usually presented but a selected part of the 
"facts" on controversial issues. But, in theory, an allegiance to an edu- 
cational philosophy of objectivity has predominated in the utterances of 
American educators. Latterly, there is some division in the educational 
ranks. A small but growing minority has become convinced that the 
educator must become a propagandist for programs that he considers to 
be in the public interest. Let us briefly examine the statements of their 

In 1928, R. L. Finney discussed the problem of achieving followership 
of the duller intellects. 3 He declared, "The leadership of the wise and 
good has never been anything but a beautiful wish." Yet "successful 
democracy demands the ascendency of the wise and the good." How is 
this to be achieved? The usual formula is: Teach the people to think. 
Train them to discern false appeals, the pitfalls of logic, the wiles of the 

1 Report of the Wisconsin Teachers' Association, 1929; quoted by Lumley, F. E., 
The Propaganda Menace, p. 317. Quoted here by permission of the Wisconsin 
Teachers' Association. 

'See the "Report of the Committee on Propaganda of the N.E.A.," Addresses 
and Proceedings, 67: 204-217. Complete report may be secured from National 
Educational Association, 1201 16th St., N. W., Washington, D. C. 

Finney, R. L., A Sociological Philosophy of Education, Chap. 20, 1928. By 
permission of The Macmillan Company, publishers. 


special pleader. But Prof. Finney questions whether the average man, 
as represented by the barber, with an I.Q. of 78, according to the Army 
tests, can be taught to think fruitfully about social issues. When this 
"average man" does enunciate worth-while "truths," he does so because 
he has learned these from his intellectual betters. "The truth seems to 
be that a mere echo is the best which can ever be expected from the 
duller half of the population." And so, "in the present crisis the race 
is between those who would selfishly exploit the masses and those who 
would teach and thereby liberate them." But the teachers are hampered 
by the need of making rational appeals. Therefore, says Prof. Finney, 
on decisive social issues, the teachers should present special pleading, 
using all means of appeal, and should propagandize in the public inter- 
est. "It is not enough that we teach children to think, we must actually 
force-feed them with the concentrated results of expert thinking." As 
the " folio worship of the masses can be secured only by memoristic drill 
on the epitomized philosophy of the leaders," the schools are the natural 
training ground. Needless to say, Prof. Finney 's position was not 
acclaimed by the professional educators of a decade ago. But the 
variety of conflicts since that time and the popular confusion, arising 
from the special pleading of numerous special interest groups, have caused 
an increasing number of educators to espouse seriously the principle of 

The most outspoken leader of the avowed indoctrinators has been 
G. S. Counts. 1 Prof. Counts is prepared to defend the thesis that all 
education contains a large element of impositions, that this process is 
inevitable and that the teachers are the best judges of what should be 
indoctrinated. Simply stated, the arguments of the indoctrinators are 
as follows: (1) The schools indoctrinate anyway; the times impress values 
on the schools, and the teachers impress these on the young. (2) Stu- 
dents are incapable of fruitful thinking and rational judgments, since 
education has been popularized ("Now, few persons in the first twenty 
or thirty years of their lives, even if given access to the world 's fund of 
knowledge and Socrates for a tutor, could evolve a workable conceptual 
scheme of society of their own into which to fit themselves"); 2 (3) 
United social action demands a common base in thought. The problem 
of the schools is to outfit people with such a base. The defenders of 
indoctrination declare that the teacher knows that the majority of pupils 
lack the ability to imbibe anything but simple shibboleths and realizes 

1 See Counts, G. S., Dare the School Build a New Social Order, 1932, and the issues 
of Soc. Frontier, especially January, 1936, entitled, "Shall the Schools Indoctrinate." 
Also, Scott, R. R., "In Defense of Propaganda," Jour. Am. Assoc. Univ. Women, 
January, 1938, pp. 68-71. 

1 Dennis, L., in Soc. Frontier, 1: 13. 


the futility of attempting to train the majority for anything other than 
the acceptance of simple conclusions. 

The arguments of the opponents of indoctrination are as follows: (1) 
In a changing social order, propaganda in the schools tends to stop the 
process and makes for a static society. "The indoctrination may be so 
artificial and wooden that in a changing world it may be dangerous. 
What has been too rapidly taught may be hard to apply to a new situ- 
ation unforeseen at the time of the indoctrination." 1 (2) Indoctrination 
is based on the assumption that the propagandist has an adequate truth, 
so as to make its inculcation worth while. Enthusiasts may think that 
they have such a truth. The students of cultural history would dis- 
agree. A doctrine is a fixation. It defines a stopping place. "Whether 
the doctrine be the 'American dream/ the Christian scheme of salvation, 
the Fascist hierarchy, the Hitlerite sadist-ocracy, or the salvational 
drama of materialist dialectic to mention only a few among the alterna- 
tive candidates for a monopoly of orthodoxy it can be final, indefeasible, 
infallibly efficacious only to hearts at least as sentimental and heads at 
least as romantic as those that stake their country's salvation on pro- 
gressive education. " 2 (3) This does not mean that the schools will not 
have definite objectives. Though eschewing a particular content, they 
may aim at general objectives, for instance, the development of an 
attitude favorable to the experimental method. "Education could 
become, under other auspices, one source of progress, if it were free to 
treat the future experimentally." 3 The opponents of further indoctri- 
nation in the schools do not deny the existence of indoctrination for 
nationalistic and economic programs at the present time. They note 
that such is unfortunately the fact. But they do not believe that 
the cure is to be found in counterpropaganda or new indoctrinations. 
Rather, they would "indoctrinate to end indoctrinations." And they 
would not have education purposeless. But they would teach inclusive 
aims, rather than specific programs and particular indoctrinations. 4 

The position that one assumes in this controversy depends upon 
faith: faith in the ability of the common man, or distrust of his capacity; 
faith in the principles of freedom, or in a particular doctrine as the way of 
salvation; faith in the values of a plural, diversified, changing, competi- 
tive order, or in a relatively static society governed by a doctrine; faith 

1 Merriam, C. E. t Political Power, p. 307, 1934. 

1 Kallen, H. M., Education versus Indoctrination, 1934. This pamphlet is a 
devastating criticism of propaganda in the schools. Quoted by permission of Uni- 
versity of Chicago Press. 

'Tugwell, R. G., Redirecting Education, vol. I, p. 91, 1934-1935. 

4 Fraser, M. G., The College of the Future, pp. 262 ff. 

For another criticism of indoctrination in education, see Gideonse, H., "National 
Collectivism and Charles A. Beard, 11 Jour. Pol Econ. 9 43: 778 jf. 


in intelligence, or in mass regimentation. In each dichotomy, the author 

chooses the first alternative. 



The problem of the influence of the literary, pictorial or musical 
artist upon popular opinion and beliefs is discussed perennially. Since 
the commentaries upon the artist by Plato and Aristotle, the philosophers 
of every age have dealt with the problem of the artist's influence. In 
periods of fervid social controversy, the political leaders and the artists 
themselves analyze the artist's products and his influence from the 
sociological point of view. The selection of literature for popular con- 
sumption in the interests of propaganda for a special viewpoint is advo- 
cated by Plato, who declares that there must be "a censorship of the 
writers of fiction, and let the censors receive any tale of fiction which is 
good and reject the bad." 1 The poets tell lies, says Plato. Although the 
intentional lie might be politically expedient, Plato would regulate the 
literary lies that were not expedient. Further, he objected to the poets 
because they made popular instruction by the philosophers more difficult 
and aroused human passions. Plato enunciated the propaganda role of 
literature and declared censorship necessary, so as to restrict all but the 
state propagandist poet. " Aristotle limits the political control of the 
arts to the regulation of them in the education of young children. He 
says no more, however, than that their governors and preceptors 'should 
take care of what tales and stories it may be proper for them to hear.' " 2 
Aristotle states that fiction and literature may be viewed from the 
political and moral points of view but that they may also be considered 
psychologically in their uses for purgation and diversion in popular 
thinking. Stressing as he does the function of literature in providing 
amusement, relaxation, and recreation, he would permit freedom to the 
literary artist to an extent not permitted by Plato. The discussion of 
the function of the artist, including the literary man, has in large part 
stemmed from the Platonic and Aristotelian positions. With the victory 
of Christianity, literature was increasingly valued in proportion as it was 
thought to inculcate moral values. "Art for art's sake" appeared in 
neither the Platonic nor the Christian traditions. With the develop- 
ment of printing, mass literacy begins and popular literature burgeons. 
By the eighteenth century, literatures of classes, groups and various 
subdivisions of society were emerging. Literature then portrayed the 
characteristics of subgroups within particular cultures, as well as of 
universal types. For example, there was a growing literature of the 
middle classes. In England and France, the portrayal of middle-class 

1 Republic, 3770. 

Adler, M. J., Art and Prudence, p. 42, 1937. 


life, with the accompanying values of diligence, frugality and honesty, 
appeared in the writings of Defoe and Moltere, John Bunyan and 
Jonathan Swift, Fielding and Richardson. In the nineteenth century 
Macaulay, Thackeray, Eliot, Dickens and a host of others carried on 
the representations of the middle classes. 1 Likewise, other societal 
groups were portrayed. Increasingly during the past three centuries the 
varieties of types, classes and groups in Western society have been 
portrayed in popular literature. 

National and group literatures provide symbols for their adherents 
and opponents. "We may say of the great passages in a people's 
literature that they form, as it were, a national liturgy. There are 
passages in the Authorized Version, speeches and lyrics and single lines 
in Shakespeare, stanzas of Gray's Elegy in a Country Churchyard, and 
verses in some of our hymns, which exercise a dominion over the mind." 2 
Such symbols evolve in the experience of a people. Now the propa- 
gandist is a manipulator of symbols, and the modern propagandist 
attempts the management of literary forms. Propagandist literature is 
that which is used by some special group to plead a cause. The author 
may or may not have intended that his product be used as propaganda. 
The author of The Face on the Bar-room Floor never intended that a 
generation of Anti-Saloon Leaguers should quote his poem. On the 
other hand, when a Hcrr Julius Streicher has a literary lieutenant turn 
out an anti-Semitic Mother Goose for German children we have direct 
literary manufacture. 

In the nineteenth century, a growing number of reform groups 
selected or manufactured a literature to further their causes. One 
thinks at once of Charles Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby and the abuses of 
the private schools of England; of Uncle Tom's Cabin and the anti-slavery 
movement in the United States; of Black Beauty and the campaign 
against cruelty to animals; of the Socialist movement in America and 
the novels of Upton Sinclair, Frank Norris and Jack London; of the 
"muckrakers" and Lincoln Steffens' Shame of the Cities; of Upton 
Sinclair's The Jungle and the reform of the meat-packing industry 
through the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906; of a host of second-rate 
novels, poems and essays and the Prohibition movement; of many other 
instances of privately organized reform movements and the literatures 
by which they plead their causes. 

During the past twenty years the problem of propaganda literature 
has entered a new phase of both discussion and practice in the state- 
inspired propaganda literatures of Russia, Italy and Germany. "Until 
recently these varying conceptions of literatures, which may be traced 

* Palin, F. C., The Middle Classes, Chaps. 9, 18, 19, 1936. 
Barker, E., National Character, p. 222, 1927. 


from Plato to Cocteau, have proceeded on the whole undisturbed by 
authoritarian intrusion. The victory of the Bolsheviks over the White 
armies in 1920 and the subsequent consolidation of the U.S.S.R. have 
brought the question of literature out of the realm of theoretical abstrac- 
tion and converted intellectual polemics into revolutionary partisan 
warfare." 1 The Bolsheviks attempted the organization of proletarian cul- 
ture. The question of bourgeois literature was immediately to the fore. 
Although many of the earlier revolutionary leaders, especially Lenin, did 
not favor a too detailed control of literary output, the extremists soon won 
the day. 2 They clamored for a literary dictatorship. Literature was 
viewed as a handmaid of the state. "Only he is an artist/' they claimed, 
"who at the present moment can instill in the minds of millions the con- 
viction that a return to the past is impossible." During the past fifteen 
years, policies on the control of literature have fluctuated somewhat, but, 
in the main, literary output has been rather closely controlled. The 
Communists have insisted that the arts have always been propaganda 
for the dominant ideology. Preoccupied with the class struggle, organ- 
izations of the Communist enthusiasts, such as the Artists International, 
have declared that art renounces individualism and is to be collectivized, 
systemized, organized, disciplined and molded as a weapon. Within 
Russia, the Communist leadership has extensively propagandized for a 
political viewpoint through the selection of what people should read. 
Vast government printing houses have produced an amazing flood of 
printed materials. Since the revolution, over six billion copies of books 
have been printed. There are about 45,000 new titles each year. There 
are over 1800 Soviet periodicals. (Some of the selected writers are 
presented in enormous editions: 12 million copies of the works of Tolstoy, 
32 million of Gorky's, and for his centennial a total of 8,150,000 copies 
of Pushkin's. 3 ) Literature has been used in an organized way for the 
propaganda of cultural values. There has been systematic preparation 
of a children's literature. The old fairy tales and folk tales were con- 
sidered harmful. In place of these a children's literature that reflects 
the values desired by the Communist leadership is being created. 

As the authoritarian states appeared in Italy, Germany and else- 
where, the principle of state control of literature has spread. There has 
been an orgy of burning books and banishing authors. In the liberal 
democratic states, propaganda literature has been disseminated by 
special interest groups, not by the state. America has a propaganda 
literature of the slavery movement, the prohibition movement, the 

1 Lerner, M., and Mims, E., Jr., "Literature," Ency. Soc. Sci., 9: 539. 
2 Eastman, M., Artists in Uniform, 1934. 
* Williams, A. R., The Soviets, p. 377, 1937. 
See also Harper, S. N. f Civic Training in Soviet Russia, Chap. 14, 1929. 


muckraking days, and other crusades. There are only a few instances 
of state-sponsored literature. One illustration is that of the selection of 
reading material for the soldiery in the World War. l 

But the most powerful special pleading is that which occurs without 
formal propaganda. There is always a selection of literary content in 
terms of the dominant values. For example, the Communist and Fascist 
leaders have selected a propaganda literature to high-light certain aspect? 
of the class struggle and economic groups. But from the early nine- 
teenth century onward a growing part of all literature in the Western 
cultures has been concerned with the class struggle and economic groups. 
As Sorokin has written, "In brief, in the nineteenth- and twentieth- 
century economic problems, economic motives, economic behavior, eco- 
nomic ideology, the economic interpretation of almost all the actions of 
the heroes of literary works, became a mania, an obsession, a fashion, 
the sign of a supposedly deep insight into human nature." 2 If a certain 
set of values is dominant in literature, these values may be instilled all 
the more effectively because certain minority positions are also stated. 
The propagandist may be too thorough in his selections and exclusions. 
Credulity may be strained. In Germany today the propaganda leader- 
ship is busy remaking the country's songs, literature and schoolbooks. 
In America, five small books called the McGuffey Readers were printed 
between 1836 and 1840. During the last half of the nineteenth century 
these readers were the standard textbooks of the rural schools of the 
American Middle West. Political, economic, ethical and religious values 
as reflected in the McGuffey Readers were inculcated in untold millions 
of pupils. 3 These readers were not propaganda disseminated by a self- 
conscious leadership or special interest group. They were selected on 
the basis of common beliefs and values that were widely diffused. They 
were read in a culture in which there were other and minority statements 
of position on these problems. They were contemporaries of Ingersoll. 
Yet it remains to be proved that state-inspired propaganda textbooks 
will be more effective in unifying values for school children than were 
the folk-selected McGuffey Readers. Propaganda literature may be 
effective if it fits into prejudices, beliefs, loyalties and self-interests that 
are already widely disseminated. Those who are already partially or 
entirely convinced of the truth of the material propagandized may be 
fortified in their beliefs. Others may remain unconvinced though forced 
to be quiescent. A folk-selected literature waxes in influence ; it remains 
to be seen whether an imposed literature will have equal vitality. 

1 Hall, G. S., Morale, pp. 83 ff., 1920. 

2 Sorokin, P. A., " Fluctuation of Forms of Art," in Social and Cultural Dynamic*. 
vol. I, p. 641, 1937. 

1 Minnich, H. C., William Holmes McGuffey and His Readers, 1936. 


The process of propaganda is inevitable in modern society. Indig* 
nant discussion of propaganda as a "social evil" or "menace" and the 
advocacy of programs to eliminate propaganda are futile. Propaganda 
is here to stay. That a great deal of propaganda has been directed 
toward ends that are harmful to the larger society or to special groups 
is obvious. Such propaganda cannot be entirely eliminated from the 
present order, except through a monopolistic control by governments of 
all the channels of communication. This substitutes official political 
propaganda for all other special pleadings, as has occurred in the authori- 
tarian states. But under democracy the channels of communication 
must be kept open. However, there are many limitations upon the 
activity of contemporary propagandists under relatively free discussion. 

The propagandist may be exposed, and a long-drawn-out and expen- 
sive campaign may prove a boomerang if a large public is incensed as a 
result of the exposure. The utilities campaign brought about such 
repercussions. Then, too, a propaganda campaign may create opposition 
and arouse a counterpropaganda movement. If the counterpropaganda 
movement taps widespread popular prejudices, the propagandist cannot 
be successful, even if he has access to large financial subsidies. The 
Republican propaganda of 1936 is a case in point. The propagandist is 
also hampered by regulations set up within the various means of com- 
munication. The rules imposed by both the broadcasting chains in 1936 
hampered the propagandists of both political parties. Certain legal 
restrictions may be set up enforcing publicity of the sources of material 
disseminated in newspapers, motion pictures, radio and other channels 
of communication. Evasion would probably be easy, and the legal 
restrictions would need to be carefully worded to avoid interference 
with freedom of expression, but some regulation is possible. Further, 
as we have noted, the propagandist is always limited by the existing 
popular beliefs and prejudices. The best organized special pleading may 
shatter on a prejudice. In addition, the propagandist may be thwarted 
by popular stupidity, lack of interest or apathy. 1 Mental sluggishness 
may prove a defense against rapid modification of opinions at the behest 
of a special pleader. Again, the point is often made that the common 
man is at a disadvantage because propaganda costs money and special 
interests have the larger war chest. This is sometimes true, but it must 
not be forgotten that the general public has political defenders who 
delight in tilting a lance at special interests. The general public is not 
defenseless before an organized interest. And finally, the general public 
may be protected in part by an increased knowledge of the propaganda 
process. The educational system should equip the modern student 
with a knowledge of the most frequently used propaganda devices. 

1 Lumley, op. dt. t pp. 394 ff. 


Adult education should likewise stress the popularization of knowledge 
of the propagandist's techniques. 1 If the common man can achieve 
enough insight into the propaganda process, he can thwart the special 
pleader who is advocating causes not in the general interest. General 
publics can also hamper the propagandists if they can select champions 
of the larger interests who will organize counterpropaganda. The 
propagandist is himself ruled and limited by his social milieu, and a 
part of that environment is the alertness, intelligence and critical ability 
of the publics with which he operates. Although propaganda is pervasive 
and will be persistent, it need not be fatal to intelligent popular decisions. 

1 In this connection two recent developments should be noted: (1) the founding of 
the Institute for Propaganda Analysis, to which we have already referred and (2) the 
America's Town Meeting of the Air program on propaganda methods. See their 
bulletin, vol. Ill, No. 24 


"The Athenians gathering en masse at the Acropolis had an ideal 
agency of communication. They could all listen at once to their peerless 
leader, Pericles. Until radio was invented America lacked her Acropolis. 
. . . With radio an American Pericles can have his Acropolis and speak 
to all America at once. 1 ' 1 

" Radio was to revolutionize education; it has not done so. It was to 
revolutionize politics; it has not done BO. In my judgment it cannot do 
so. Radio is nothing but an acceleration in time and an enlargement in 
space of the vibrations of the human mentality." 2 

The prophets of the early 1920's quite generally overestimated the 
immediate influence of the radio on political and ideational life and 
underestimated its development as a purveyor of advertising and a new 
medium of mass entertainment. They exhibited a distorted vision of 
the daily preoccupations and interests of the common man and of the 
business interests. But even though, in America, the radio's potenti- 
alities for the dissemination of political and educational information 
have not been exploited so extensively as was anticipated, it is none the 
less true that the radio is the most important instrument for mass com- 
munication since the invention and development of printing. The 
diffusion of ideas, facts and personality elements has been greatly stimu- 
lated. But that which is diffused is, for the most part, the same content 
as is already provided in newspaper, periodical literature and the motion 

Although the content of radio programs is quite similar to that of 
newspapers, popular literature and motion pictures, the nature of the 
instrument of communication has affected the presentation in many 
ways. For example, perception is modified in that there is a separation 
of ideation from visual perception. Hence, simplicity in the formulation 
of and statement of ideas is at a premium. Further, in talking into the 
microphone one is not addressing a public meeting but talking to indi- 
viduals. Broadcasting techniques must be adapted to that fact. At 
the listening end, the home has been reinforced as a public-opinion forum, 
and discussion within families is stimulated. 

This new means of communication is potentially capable of diffusing 
anything that the human voice or other sound may express. This may 

1 Glenn Frank. 

* Hard, W., in Education on the Air, Radio in Education, Proceedings, 1935. 



be accomplished almost Instantaneously and diffused to scores of millions 
of people. Therefore, new and unsolved problems of control are pre- 
sented. If information, opinions and entertainment may be diffused 
more widely than was previously possible, the questions of what infor- 
mation and whose opinions become ever more significant. Authoritarian 
states quickly settle that question; but the democracies debate. In 
America, although revolutionary changes in opinions about education 
and politics have not emerged thus far, popular opinion has been some- 
what influenced on hundreds of topics. Opinions are developed, but- 
tressed or changed in many fields. Advertising proclaims its wares. In 
entertainment, the supremacy of the romantic quest is declared in song 
and story. Opinions on the humorous are colored by the " wisecracks " 
of a ventriloquist's dummy. Musical tastes are slightly improved. In 
general, however, the radio thus far is but an extension of the content 
of other means of communication. Attention areas have widened, but 
that which is attended to has not changed greatly. 

As a commercial venture, the wireless has existed for four decades, the 
radio for less than twenty years. Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Company 
was formed in Great Britain in 1897 and incorporated in America in 1899. 
From the time when Marconi startled the world by broadcasting intelli- 
gible coded messages by wireless, many inventors devoted themselves to 
the problems of radiobroadcasting the human voice and other sounds. 
As early as 1904, a Danish engineer Poulsen had developed the first 
wireless telephone, and many other systems simultaneously created by 
other inventors soon appeared. However, all this apparatus was crude, 
uncertain and inefficient, so that popular programs were impossible. It 
was thought that the wireless telephone would be usable in war and in 
emergency situations. Apparently the inventors had no inkling of the 
contemporary radio industry with its commercial and entertainment 
interests. The vacuum tube, first used to increase the range of telephone 
conversations, provided the necessary basis for reliable broadcasting. 
On Nov. 2, 1920, KDKA of Westinghouse Electric Company of East 
Pittsburgh opened as a broadcasting station. The first program pre- 
sented the returns of the Harding election. After this, KDKA broadcast 
for an hour every evening. Their objective was to interest the public 
so that the company might sell parts for the amateur construction of 
receiving sets. At first the radio was a novelty, and program content 
was not so important, as the listeners were primarily concerned with 
achieving clarity of reception, eliminating static and keeping the receiving 
set in working order for a few minutes at a time. Music, notable singers 
and speakers were the principal features. By 1922, occasional afternoon 
programs were being offered, and general news, weather forecasts, 
children 's hours and time signals had been added. Interest in the radio 


programs developed rapidly, and hundreds of stations were established 
during each of the early years. By 1927 there were 694 stations, which 
number decreased each year until 1933, when there were 598. News- 
papers, churches, equipment companies, schools and private broadcasters 
established stations. The U. S. Department of Commerce allotted wave 
lengths. Relative chaos reigned for a time with wave jumpers broad- 
casting on the time of other stations. This was ended on Feb. 28, 1927, 
when the Radio Control Bill was passed by Congress and the Federal 
Radio Commission was formed. 1 

The radio industry has grown phenomenally. The investment in 
radio equipment, stations and factories was estimated at over two billion 
dollars in 1934. In 1922, there were about 60,000 receiving sets in the 
United States, whereas in 1935 there were over twenty-one million 
sets. 2 The United States has approximately four-fifths of the world's 
supply of receiving sets. Certainly the radio has been invented, devel- 
oped, perfected, popularized and diffused in an amazingly short time. 
It is a dramatic illustration of the mechanical efficiency that has been 
attained in the centers of western culture. 


In America, the early development of the radio was for the most part 
unorganized and unplanned. Inasmuch as receiving sets were not 
licensed, as they have been abroad, accurate statistics on their number 
and distribution do not exist. In the census of 1930, householders were 
asked about the ownership of sets. Census enumerators reported that 
12,078,345 families owned radio sets. But some of these families had 
more than one set. In 1935, the Columbia Broadcasting System esti- 
mated that there were 21,455,799 sets in the United States. In Table 
IV, Chapter IX, are listed by states the percentages of families provided 
with radio sets at the time of the 1930 census. The large percentages of 
sets owned in the New England, Middle Atlantic, East North Central 
and Pacific areas may be noted from this table. In sharp contrast 
to these, the relatively small distribution of sets in the East South Central 
and West South Central states evidences not only economic but cultural 

There are now somewhat less than 600 broadcasting stations in the 
United States. In the relatively chaotic and uncontrolled field of radio 
broadcasting during the early 1920's, scores of new stations began to 
broadcast each year. The problems of interference were soon acute, as 

1 An early study of radio development is Goldsmith, A. N., and Lescarboura, A. C. t 
This Thing Called Broadcasting, 1930. 

1 Quoted from Columbia Broadcasting Company statistics by Eisenberg, A. L., 
Children and Radio Program, p. 3, 1936. 



there are but ninety-six air channels for North America. The record of 
the number and ownership of stations until 1930 appears in Table IX. 



cial broad- 




and radio 
stores and 
















































































* Table prepared for the CommisHion on Social Trends by Willcy, M. M., and Rice, S. A., roported 
in Communication Agencies and Social Life, p. 190, 1933. Quoted by permission of the McGraw-Hill 
Book Company, Inc. 

The trends to be noted in Table IX, notably the growth of commercial 
broadcasting companies and the decrease of stations owned by churches, 
newspapers, electrical companies and educational institutions, continue 
to the present. The nuisance value of a station may be twenty to thirty 
times its effective broadcasting range. With the organization of the 
Federal Radio Commission in 1927 (now included in the Federal Com- 
munications Commission) a plan to create national, regional and local 
stations and greatly to reduce the total number of stations was announced. 
The original intention was to reduce the total number of stations to 315. l 
The courts interfered with this drastic reduction, recognizing vested 
interests in the use of wave lengths. Some reduction was accomplished, 
but there is still an enormous waste of broadcasting facilities, inasmuch 
as the great chains preempt a number of effective channels, providing 
the same program over a number of national channels at the same time. 
The most effective channels are used to broadcast entertainment and 
commercial advertising. Technical and legal obstacles have prevented 
the imposition of a more rational allocation of wave lengths. 


The number of radio stations, receiving sets and listeners in the 
United States exceeds that in the rest of the world today. The number 
1 Reported in Orton, W. A., America in Search of Culture, p. 249, 1933. 





Number of 
sets in 
use, 1932* 

Number of 
receiving sets 
per thousand 

Number of 



25 4 



55 1 



35 000 

8 7 






United States 


135 8 

571 1 





Brazil . 




















































Norway. . . 








Spain . ... 








United Kingdom 
























New Zealand 




Africa (all of) 




Algeria . 




Union of South Africa 




Vatican City 


* Source: Batson, L. D., Radio Market* of the World, 1932, Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Com- 
merce, Trade Promotion Series, No. 136. 
f World Almanac. 


of sets, the number per thousand population and the number of broad- 
casting stations abroad have been compiled from various sources and are 
shown in Table X. 1 

It will be noted that Denmark, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and 
Holland have by far the largest proportions of licensed sets and that 
such large areas as Brazil, India, China and Russia have relatively very 
few receiving sets. The locations of the broadcasting stations of the 
world may be noted on Figs. 3 and 4, in Chapter IX on Geographic 
Distribution of Group Opinion. 

The numbers equipped to listen to broadcasts are increasing rapidly. 
It is estimated that approximately twenty million additional persons per 
year have acquired radio facilities in the past five years. However, 
statistics in this field become obsolete almost as rapidly as they are 


In the United States, radio stations are privately owned and managed, 
subject to the licensing powers of the Federal Communications Com- 
mission. Although among the other countries of the world, great 
differences exist in the systems of ownership, management and control 
of stations and in the ways of licensing receiving sets, the systems are 
all so generally controlled by governments that one is justified in con- 
trasting the American system with radio control in the rest of the world. 
In general, more or less autocratic governmental control provides the 
ultimate authority abroad. Let us briefly summarize certain pertinent 
facts regarding the radio in various important nations. 

Great Britain. From 1922 to 1926 the British Broadcasting Company 
was a privately owned limited liability company, to be controlled by the 
government only in case of emergency. In 1927, after a governmental 
commission had reported on the importance of broadcasting in national 
life, the British Broadcasting Corporation was established. The BBC 
is privately owned, but with regulated profits. It is administered by 
five governors who are appointed by the postmaster general for terms of 
five years. The corporation must broadcast whatever the government 
departments may require. Income is provided from a listeners' fee of 
ten shillings ($2.49) and from the sale of printed publications. The 
government receives this revenue, except for the regulated payments to 

1 A table on the licenses per thousand population abroad in 1934 will be found in 
Education on the Air, p. 304, 1935. 

2 The materials of this summary are abstracted from: Burrows, A. R., in Ann. 
Am. Acad. of Pol. and Soc. Sci., 177: 29-42; a bulletin of Education by Radio, 2: 7; 
various other articles. Cantril, H., and Allport, G. W., The Psychology of Radio, 
p. 37, 1935, was also consulted. 


stockholders. National programs are broadcast, and at the same time 
the regional stations broadcast programs adapted to the vaiious areas. 
Some experimenting with programs is possible, so that audiences may 
be built up for programs that at first have few listeners. Educational 
broadcasts have been developed to an extent not possible under private 
control. Of course, the management is subject to popular demands, but 
considerable flexibility of program content is possible. 

Germany. Government ownership and control under the Ministry of 
Propaganda. License fees of two reichsmarks (eighty cents) per month 
are collected from owners of sets, by the postman on his rounds. 
Restricted advertising is permitted. Until 1933 the programs were 
primarily for entertainment, education and information. However, the 
National Socialist Party, during its first year in office, devoted most of 
the radio time to political propaganda. Since 1934, other types of 
programs have been allotted increased time. As liberalism has been 
supplanted by a state philosophy which proclaims that state interest 
precedes individual interest, authoritarian leaders have expressed no 
qualms about the diversion of radio programs into propaganda channels. 

France. At the present writing there are thirteen government and 
seventeen private stations. The government stations are supported by 
a license fee on receiving apparatus. This varies with the type of set, 
but the most common fee is fifty French francs ($3.29) per year. The 
private stations are maintained by advertising, local subsidies and fees 
obtained from the sale of their time. It is likely that there will soon be 
no private stations in France. Probably the condition of the govern- 
ment budget accounts for their being permitted to persist during the past 
few years. The principal development of radio in France is occurring 
in the government stations. 

Italy. Broadcasting equipment and service is a private monopoly 
under detailed state control. A supervisory commission controls the 
program activities. This supervisory commission works with the Minis- 
try of Propaganda. Operating funds are provided by a tax on receiving 
sets (about $3.60), a municipal tax and a limited amount of advertising 
fees. The most important recent development in Italian broadcasting 
is the building of a number of short-wave stations to propagandize in 
Italian colonies and to create disturbances in French and English colonies. 

Russia. The All-Union Commission on Radiofication and Radio 
Broadcasting, a government commission, controls the radio. There are 
about eighty broadcasting stations, including the first 500-kilowatt 
transmitter in the world. In 1934, a system of license fees on receivers 
was instituted. The commission's executive committee, composed of 
the director and two assistants, administers the national broadcasts, 
determines their content and hours and also supervises the programs 


arranged by the sixty-seven regional committees, for broadcasting over 
regional stations. In Russia, the relatively small number of receiving 
sets does not accurately measure the number of listeners, because groups 
of people habitually listen at one receiving set. It is estimated that 
there are over ten million listeners using the 1,500,000 sets existing in 

Japan. Ownership of the radio by a chartered corporation, the 
Broadcasting Corporation of Japan (about 6000 stockholders). The 
corporation is controlled by the Department of State. Income is pro- 
vided by a tax on receiving sets. The corporation provides upkeep and 
repair of these sets. Although program content is quite varied, the 
entire radio system is at the disposal of various government departments 
for propaganda broadcasts. 

Among the other nations of the world, there is government ownership 
or control, support by public funds or license fees and little or no adver- 
tising, in Australia, Belgium, Canada (five stations), Denmark, Mexico, 
Finland, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Irish Free State, Poland 
and Rumania. Stations are privately owned, with all revenues from 
advertising or by group subsidy, in the United States, Argentina, Brazil, 
Chile, Mexico (thirty-nine stations) and all the Canadian stations not 
yet nationalized. 


During the past decade the problems of governmental versus private 
ownership and control of radio have been discussed widely and debated 
frequently in the United States by educators, broadcasters and poli- 
ticians. 1 Private ownership of radio stations, modified by an increas- 
ingly strict supervision by government bodies and by the creation 
of a number of national, state and municipal broadcasting stations, 
offers the best system for the development of diverse opinions and 
of an active opinion process in the United States. The average Amer- 
ican listener has not yet considered the problems of radio control. 
Listeners have been dissatisfied and have expressed dislike of certain 
types of advertising, of some programs, of this and of that, but they have 
not seriously considered the possibility of changing the basis of ownership 

1 Private ownership has been perfervidly defended in a book distributed by the 
National Association of Broadcasters, Broadcasting in the United States, 1933; in a 
summary by Harris, E. II., "Shall the Government Own, Operate, and Control Radio 
Broadcasting in the United States?", Radio and Education, pp. 83-115, 1934; in scores 
of articles. Modifications of our private-ownership system have been suggested in 
Orton, op. cit., Chap. 13, 1933; Cantril and Allport, op. cit., Chap. 3; Brindze, R., 
Not To Be Broadcast, 1937, Bliven, B., in Radio and Education, pp. 76-83, 1934; in 
numerous bulletins published by Education by Radio (National Committee on Educa- 
tion by Radio, 1201 Sixteenth Street, N. W., Washington, D. C.). 


and control. A great many, of the intellectuals who have advocated 
government ownership and control have apparently had in mind 
control by the kind of government they would like to have. In 
revulsion against the business process they have jumped to another 
extreme. But although vested interests may desire a minimum of control 
and the simpleminded may demand complete control, it is possible that 
more closely controlled private stations and the creation of some publicly 
owned stations would provide the best system for "the American way." 

Divisions of the Federal government now do considerable broad- 
casting but do not own stations. But the Federal Communications Act, 
Section 301, states, "It is the purpose of this Act, among other things, 
to maintain the control of the United States over all the channels of 
interstate and foreign radio transmission, and to provide for the use ol 
such channels, but not the ownership thereof, by persons for limited 
periods of time, under licenses granted by Federal Authority, and no 
such license shall be construed to create any right, beyond the terms, 
conditions and periods of the license." Hence, private companies do 
not, in any irrevocable sense, "own" the air. States and municipalities 
maintain stations. Why should not the Federal government reserve 
some desirable wave lengths for its own use and provide programs of an 
educational, political and informational type that the private stations 
are loath to develop? At the present time, the stations of states and 
municipalities and other nonprofit stations are subject to continual 
attacks. This might be changed. The commission could exercise its 
power. J. G. Kerwin has stated, "A new policy must aim at the restric- 
tion or elimination of commercialism. Greater control must be lodged 
in the federal authorities to exercise discriminating severity, adequate 
regulation, and to provide some yardstick of measurement to keep the 
public constantly aware of the best that is possible in broadcasting. Let 
us realize the best possibilities of private enterprise. Let us provide 
efficient supervisory administration. To accomplish these ends the 
federal government should take over from five to ten frequencies within 
the 500 to 1000 kilocycle range." 1 Such increased governmental control, 
itself, somewhat limited by the pressures of private stations, might pro- 
vide the best balance of power in radio control. 

Owing to the insistence of vested interests the present distribution 
and power of broadcasting stations provide an inefficient coverage for 
the United States. Moreover, at the moment, minorities and financially 
weak applicants are at a disadvantage in comparison with dominant 
economic groups in the allocation of broadcasting time and power. 

1 Kerwim, J. G., The Control of Radio, p. 26, Public Policy Pamphlets, No. 10, 
University of Chicago Press, 1934. Quoted by permission of University of Chicago 



Present-day radio advertising is blatant. It intrudes upon programs 
and is often of questionable honesty. The general level of programs 
is low, and the sponsored program will be adapted to existing tastes 
rather than to educative efforts in music and entertainment. None the 
less, the retention of private ownership, modified by the creation of some 
government stations, appears politically desirable at the moment. The 
radio remains available as a potential instrument to mobilize opinion 
against the excesses of government and of the party in power in crisis 
situations. The liberal, even in his disgruntled moments must not 
forget the history of government. 

Yet this great agency of mass impression must not be irresponsibly 
used by commercial broadcasters. Government regulation should check 
excesses. In addition to commercial stations and some government 
stations, the allocation of good wave lengths so that powerful stations 
could be maintained by a few universities or responsible endowed insti- 
tutions would provide a diversity of control and ownership. It is 
essential that this basic means of communication should not be too 
closely controlled by any group. 


Radio listeners, tuning in on the commercial broadcasting stations, 
find a considerable variety of programs. There are sponsored programs 
and sustaining programs, that is, those paid for by commercial sponsors 
and those supplied by the stations. At different periods of the day, the 
proportion of each varies. H, Cantril notes that, in one large station, 
the proportion of time sold is : 










9:00-10:00 P.M. 


10:00-11:00 A.M. 


11:00-12:00 P.M. 


7:00- 8:00 P.M. 


5:00- 6:00 P.M. 


4:00- 5:00 P.M. 


8:00- 9:00 PM. 


9:00-10:00 A.M. 


12:OO- 1:00 P.M. 


6:00- 7:00 P.M. 


3:00- 4:00 P.M. 


2:00- 3:00 P.M. 


with lesser percentages for the other hours of the day. 1 

Most of the programs are primarily for entertainment and amuse- 
ment rather than for instruction, although the proportion of time spent 
in instruction has increased slightly during the past few years. 2 

Some idea of the variety of American programs may be obtained 
from an examination of the various studies of program content. In 

1 Cantril and Allport, op. cit., p. 77. 

1 The experience of educators with NBC is reported by Reed, T. H., "Commercial 
Broadcasting and Civic Education," Pub. Opin. Quar. 9 1: 3: 57-68, 


Chapter III on Communication we have noted the results of several 
small studies. 1 The author essayed a much more extensive and detailed 
classification in the study that is reported on the following pages. 2 
Though but a small proportion of the program content deals with political 
or economic issues, all programs are of significance with regard to some 
type of opinion. Judgments of the worth of various kinds of music and 
stories, the significance of market reports, of various features and of 
economic goods result from radio listening. 

In an attempt to find the principal trends in program content, we 
studied the programs from 1925 to 1935 of nine American and one 
English broadcasting station. The sources were the daily newspaper 
listings of programs; the classifications were according to the dominant 
characteristic of the program; the unit of record was the time devoted 
to a given program; and the results were worked out in percentages of 
the total time. Before turning to these results, we shall indicate briefly 
the chief problems encountered and the methods used. 

1 . There are three sources from which radio programs may be studied : 
some printed record, such as the daily newspaper listings or periodicals 
like the Chicago Radio Guide; the log books of stations; " listening in" 
to programs. For a detailed analysis, listening in would be best, but this 
limits the record to present or present and future programs. The records 
of the radio stations are not available, not, at any rate, unless one examines 
them at the stations. The periodicals dealing with radio programs are 
of recent vintage, dealing only with the past few years, and, moreover, 
do not cover the entire field. We therefore used daily newspapers from 
the cities in which the stations were located. For a few periods the 
listings were not complete in one newspaper, but we completed these by 
using other papers. One source of error in such a record is the variable 
accuracy of listings for various years. No doubt in the early years 
there was more changing of programs after they were printed in the 
papers than there has been of late years. With a considerable body of 
data, however, we need not regard this as a serious inaccuracy. 

2. The unit of measurement was the number of minutes devoted to 
a type of program. Within these time intervals there may be infinite 
variation in content. The effect of five minutes of one kind of dance 
music is not that of five minutes of another. But we are comparing the 
relative amount of time devoted to types of programs in a time series. 

3. The categories for program classification were not arbitrarily 
devised. The twenty-seven types that may be noted in Table XI were 

1 The reports of G. A. Lundberg, C. Kirkpatrick, Ventura Free Press and H. 
Cantril and G. W. Allport arc summarized in Chapter III, pp. 45-46. 

1 The bulk of the remainder of this section is adapted from Albig, W., "The Con- 
tent of Radio Programs, 1925-1935," Soc. Forces, 16: 3: 338-349. 


gradually developed from the program listings. Beginning with a few 
general types, which were later modified, examining a sample from the 
various years of the period recorded, so that the types would be inclusive 
of almost all the programs during the entire period, we developed this 
final list. Most of the small residue of miscellaneous items could have 
been classified, but the resultant list would have been unwieldy. The 
types are for the most part self-explanatory. The foreign programs are 
those originating abroad. The continued plays were separated from 
the plays presented in a single program because these continued plays 
have latterly won a distinct following. In this type were included all 
the continued plays except those for children, as these were already 
included in the children's classification. The star programs were those 
developed about a speaker, actor or commentator whose name was given 
for a regular program. This was exclusive of the persons featured in 
music or as exclusively news or political commentators. 

4. The programs were usually listed in the newspapers by time 
categories; that is, all the stations broadcasting from 9:00 to 9:10 would 
be listed together with the names of their programs. This necessitated 
the selection of the programs of the stations we were classifying. The 
number of minutes devoted to the various programs of our stations were 
then recorded on a large data sheet. One such sheet was used for each 
week of the programs of the selected stations. There was classification 
of programs by program type, by station and by sections of the day that 
is, from 6:00 A.M. to noon, noon to 6:00 P.M., 6:00 P.M. to the closing of 
the station. Figures indicating the number of minutes of a type of 
program were inscribed in the appropriate classification column. These 
small figures, showing number of minutes of a single program, were 
then totaled and worked out in percentages of the total for each program 
type, for each of the three periods of the day, for each station, for a 
weekly total. 

5. Sampling tests indicated four weeks out of each year for each sta- 
tion as adequate. So the programs for Feb. 1-15 and July 18-31 were 
classified. These periods were selected to minimize the intrusion of 
holidays, also to include winter and summer programs. The stations 
classified were: WEAF, WOR and WJZ of New York from 1925 through 
1934; WABC of New York from 1927 through 1934; WGN of Chicago 
from 1925 through 1934; WMAQ, KYW, WBBM of Chicago from 1929 
through 1934; WDAF of Kansas City from 1925 through 1934; the 
London National of the BBC. from 1925 through 1934. Here is a 
sample of powerful stations in large cities. A parallel study of low- 
power stations in small towns and cities would be desirable. These 
would no doubt be found to have differed from one another, especially 
in the early period, more than do the large stations. 


6. The relatively small samples of program-content analysis that 
have BO far been published have not indicated either the consistency of 
individual classification, if one person did the judging, or the comparative 
uniformity of classification, if more than one was involved. C. Kirk- 
patrick, in the study already referred to, is an exception. In the early 
stages of our study, the four classifiers conferred together to some extent 
on the meaning of certain program titles and examined the columns of the 
radio pages for comments on or references to those programs, so as to 
determine what their classification should be. After that they worked 
independently. Well through the classification, each classified the same 
sample week. Their results were compared for each category in our list 
of types of programs. The coefficient of correlation was .93 .0178. 

Our results provided a score or more of tables on which the classifica- 
tions of program types for each station by yearly totals appeared. Fur- 
ther, there are tables in which the averages of the American stations are 
shown. Then, there are tables showing the classification by stations 
of the various program types. And, finally, those on which the range 
of percentages among the American stations for program types by years 
are noted. Of this bulk of material only a limited selection of general 
tables may be exhibited here. Table XI gives the percentages of time 
devoted to various types of programs. It is based on the averages of 
nine American stations. Table XII provides comparable results for 
the London National of the BBC. These tables present averages. 
However, the stations differ considerably from one another in the pro- 
portions of time devoted to any type program. The comparison of the 
American with the London National programs may be made by com- 
paring Tables XI and XII. Extensive comment on the results is 
impossible within the limits of this volume. For convenience in 
thinking of the meaning of percentage differences it may be noted that, 
as most of the stations are on the air from 6:00 A.M. to at least 1 :00 A.M., 
1 per cent of broadcasting time is between eleven and twelve minutes 
per day. Hence, a change of as much as 3 per cent means at least a 
half hour more or less of that type of program every day. 

In the results of this study we have a general survey and comparison 
that purport to show certain large trends and changes. The reader may 
note the trends by studying the tables. Our study does not reveal the 
important qualitative changes within the program types. Many of 
these also may be examined in an organized fashion. The most valuable 
use of studies of content, not only of radio programs but also of other 
media of communication, is in noting trends and changes in content. 
Systems of classification may be inadequate and unstandardized. Never- 
theless, if a system is used consistently over a time period, valuable facts 
may appear. 













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Who listens to these programs; when and how long do they listen; 
what are the listeners' likes and dislikes; how are their attitudes, opinions 
and behavior affected by what they hear? As such questions are 
obviously of commercial significance to the broadcasters and also pique 
the curiosity of academic probers, a very considerable body of informa- 
tion has already been collected on these problems. Though a great deal 
of it reposes in the files of commercial broadcasting companies, there have 
been some published reports during the past few years, as indicated by 
the 732 items of the excellent bibliography appended to the volume 
Measurement in Radio, by F. H. Lumley. 

Most American families now have access to radio sets. Almost 
three-quarters of all homes are supplied with receiving sets of some kind. 
Here is an unprecedented audience; huge, diverse in ways of life, age, sex, 
training and knowledge. It is reported that in large cities 93 per cent 
of all homes have receiving sets; in cities of 25,000 to 250,000, some 92 per 
cent; in cities of 1000 to 25,000, about 88 per cent are equipped; towns 
under 1000 inhabitants are well supplied, with 77 per cent; and 34 per cent 
of all the homes in the open country have radios. 1 Repeated and con- 
tinuous surveys, by questionnaire, canvassing, telephone inquiry and 
analysis of mail response, are made in order to determine the characteris- 
tics of the listening publics. Radio ownership and audiences have been 
determined for income groups. As might be expected, the middle income 
groups listen most assiduously. 

There have been many studies to determine when different groups 
listen in and when they prefer to listen. The evening hours are generally 
best, audience peak being reached from 7:00 to 10:00 P.M. 2 As would be 
expected, women listen more often during the morning hours, children 
after school, and farmers tune in from 12:00 noon to 2:00 P.M. Various 
studies have established that the average radio is operated from four to 
five hours a day. Sunday and Friday evenings are preferred ; on Saturday 
evenings the sets are less generally used. In the summer months there 
is a decrease of about 10 per cent in comparison with the remainder of 
the year. 3 One method of noting the size of the audience tuning in on 
major broadcasts is the record of thousands of kilowatt hours of elec- 
tricity consumed in running the sets. In a few cases, listening audiences 
have been requested to turn off one electric light and then turn it on 
again after a few seconds. From the change in amount of electricity 
consumed the size of the audience has been calculated. 

1 Cantril and Allport, op. cit., p. 86. These authors summarized from a report of 

2 Lurnley, F. H., Measurement in Radio, p. 194, 1934. 
1 Ibid., p. 197. 


The diversified radio audience has many preferences in types of pro- 
grams. f Moreover, these tastes have varied greatly from year to year 
since the popularization of radio. In general, music, comedy, dramatic 
programs and sport broadcasts head the list. Preferences are canvassed 
by questionnaires, by telephone calls to homes, asking which radio 
programs are being listened to, and by analysis of "fan mail." The mail 
responses are now considered a much less significant indicator of popular 
taste than was thought a few years ago. Letter writers are usually not 
typical. Will Durant decided from a sample of fan mail that the letters 
were written by invalids, lonely people, the very young and the very old 
and mischievous children. 1 Much mail response has been solicited by 
prizes, contests and free offers. The usefulness of mail response in 
gathering information about the listeners naturally depends somewhat 
on the type of program they are writing about. Response to colorful 
personalities may be similar to that of the fan mail of movie stars. Radio 
stars receive gifts and personal contributions of many types, from food to 
cough medicine. Guy Lombardo once received 193 yards of violin 
strings when he complained about one of the strings on his instrument. 2 
Mail response and gifts are psychologically significant but are of but 
limited value in determining the likes and dislikes of typical radio fans. 3 
Surveys have made it abundantly clear that the mass of listeners in 
America want to be, not educated, but entertained. But radio audiences 
have diversified tastes in entertainment, and the broadcasters attempt 
to meet the varied demands by giving a little of everything. 

Something is known of the effects of radio programs on buying habits. 
Department stores have used " radio specials' ' to determine the extent 
to which buying depends upon radio advertising. Experiments, based 
on territories with and without radio advertising, have been made. 
Popular opinions about various types of products have been modified by 
radio appeals. But what are the results of radio discussion of contro- 
versial political and social problems? Father Coughlin had a large 
radio audience, but apparently he did not greatly influence the vote. 
Whether or not radio audiences are influenced greatly on such issues has 
not, except in a few limited cases, been subjected to experimental test. 
E. S. Robinson created a test of 120 statements on unemployment, each 
of which was preceded by a rating classification of five points. This was 
given to 419 persons (League of Women Voters members and friends). 
The subjects later gathered weekly for four successive weeks and listened 

* Ibid., p. 50. 

* Ibid., p. 167. 

1 Space does not permit a summary of even the more important studies of listeners' 
preferences. Examine the excellent summaries in Lumley, op. dt. t pp. 274-284, and 
Cantril and Allport, op. cit., pp. S&-95. 


to radio discussions of unemployment. An unexposed group was also 
tested. Both groups were retested after the series of radio lectures. 
Those who had listened to the lectures evidenced an increase in certainty 
regarding the statements with which they agreed before the lectures. 
That is, if inclined toward agreement, the subjects became more certain. 
Those who favored governmental action on unemployment had their 
beliefs fortified by the lectures, although the lecturers were selected to 
represent both positions. The opposite tendency was not evidenced. 
The listeners became more certain of what they did believe but did not 
become surer of what they did not believe. l Utilizing the very crude tests 
that the social psychologist has at his disposal at the present time, the 
influence of the broadcaster upon the opinions of listeners on political and 
social problems will no doubt be tested in the next few years. 


The effects of broadcasting upon interests, attitudes and opinions 
are so numerous, varied and subtle, and, thus far, so ill-understood, that 
we shall not commit the absurdity of attempting to list such conse- 
quences. They defy analysis of any complete and exact kind. More- 
over, most of these effects are indirect and unintended, but by no means 
incidental. The contents of radio programs reflect the prevailing 
" climate of opinion/' However, we shall comment on some of the more 
general relationships. 

The rapid development of mechanical innovation in radio equipment 
may be roughly indicated by noting that the number of patents issued 
in this field from 1916 to 1920 was 50; from 1921 to 1925 there were 443, 
and from 1926 to 1930 the government office lists 1061 patents. 2 No 
similarly rapid change has occurred in our understanding of its impli- 
cations as a new means of communication or in experimental explorations 
of its, potentialities for distributing information and modifying public 
opinion. It is understandable, but ironical, that the nation which most 
vociferously espouses democracy should have been so laggard in the use 
of the radio to enrich and broaden the knowledge and thought life of the 
masses of its citizens. Although large groups cannot be made intelligent 
by fiat or through any one channel of communication, it is an axiom of 
democracy that they may be more or less gently led to more mature 
values. Commercial broadcasting, preoccupied with the size of its 
audiences, has had no incentive to provide a gradually rising standard of 
programs in an attempt to refine popular taste. We have already dis- 
cussed the need for other and effective competing systems for the per- 
formance of this function. Thus far, American broadcasting has been 

1 Robinson, E. S M "Are Radio Fans Influenced," Survey Graphic, 68: 540-647. 
* Sorokin, P. A., Social and Cultural Dynamics, vol. II, p. 166, 1933. 


essentially but the amplification, repetition and diffusion of existing 
tastes, standards and interests. That the simpler provincial standards 
may be expanded into the values requisite to the ''great society" is the 
faith of democracy. 1 Such a viewpoint assumes the development of 
taste and knowledge of values in any field as the result of training within 
a culture. In so far as American leadership remains permeated with this 
faith, it will not persistently ignore the potentialities of the radio. 

Speed of communication accelerates the processes of opinion and of 
public decision at many points. It may be that in a fundamental way 
the popular fashions in thought will change more rapidly. Achieving 
integration in large publics has usually been a slow process. With the 
radio, a new and effective agency is provided for those bent upon building 
up or tearing down popular viewpoints. Political change will be acceler- 
ated. The defense of administrations and attacks upon them achieve a 
more immediate hearing. There is already evidence of a more rapid 
fashion change in demagogues. Preferences for popular songs, slang, 
slogans and other language forms are built up and outmoded at an 
increasing tempo. If there existed a widely diffused and stable frame- 
work of values, such speeding up of the opinion process and of decision 
might be desirable. With values in transition, however, instability, 
confusion and disintegration now occur at many points. Confusion may 
be merely increased by the multiplicity of impressions and viewpoints 
presented to a people inadequately implemented with measuring rods of 
stable value. 

We have elsewhere discussed something of the increased diffusion 
resulting from the radio. 2 That impressions are more widely scattered 
is an obvious fact. But as Lewis Mumford notes, "As with all instru- 
ments of multiplication the critical question is as to the function and 
quality of the object one is multiplying. " 3 Another basic question relates 
to the amount of psychological regimentation resulting from widespread 
diffusion. All the mass agencies of communication have some such 
blanketing effect, but, in a preoccupation with such standardization, the 
commentator must not minimize the beliefs, interests and attitudes 
developed from other means of communication or the particular view- 
points resulting from membership in class, regional, racial and other 
groups. Words, spoken in conversation or over the radio, cannot readily 
change such attitudes. 

One function that the radio may perform in the opinion field is to 
inspire interest and indicate controversies. Those special groups which 

1 See Odum, H. W., in Educational Broadcasting, pp. 100-102, for a discussion of 
the radio and enrichment of rural life. 
Chap. III. 
1 Mumford, L., Technics and Civilization, p. 21, 1934. 


have access to a richer and more diversified fare than that offered by 
the radio may listen infrequently. But that which may be simple or 
platitudinous to the expert or the better informed may be stimulating 
and inspire interest among the mass of listeners. President Sproul of 
California states, "The great need of our people today is not improved 
facilities for making known and available the materials of culture, but 
better means for interesting them in living more abundant lives. Adult 
education suffers no lack of facilities or matter for life-long learning: it 
does suffer from a dearth of consumers and of consumer psychology. In 
order to change that situation we must arouse in the average citizen a 
desire for intellectual and spiritual growth." 1 If the rule of the average 
man is to be maintained relatively uninvaded by special interests, at 
least a sizable minority must be constantly stimulated to an interest in 
public affairs. The radio may be used to inspire interest in a special 
viewpoint, ardently propagandized, or in a truly debated issue. Hence, 
radio systems effectively serve autocracy or liberal democracy. 

Inasmuch as the radio reaches large audiences of the literate and the 
illiterate, of the learned and the ignorant, it may be an effective instru- 
ment of mass education or of propaganda to the millions. It is evident 
that the nature of the instrument docs not determine that one type of 
appeal has a permanent advantage* over the other. The radio provides 
a new forum for the discussions of popular democracy, but it has also 
proved a most powerful means of mass control by the dictators. Day 
after day under the government-controlled radio systems of Europe the 
listening audience receives either unabashed government propaganda or 
a minimum of political news. 2 Under the American system a mass of 
frequently confused and confusing counsel is provided. There is some 
informal censorship of extreme political and economic doctrines. Under 
the most free of democratic systems the difficult problem of allocation 
of time to small minority groups with a small following would remain. 
Public indifference applies its own censorship to such programs. More- 
over, under relatively free discussion, the appeal of the demagogue, 
especially in crises, frequently outweighs the appeal of reason. But that 
is implicit in democracy, inescapable and persistent. Broadcasting has 
not made it so. Radio merely emphasizes and diffuses the existing 
systems, but the very extension of appeals to ever larger groups makes 
it a constantly more powerful agency for popular information or error, 
realistic knowledge or distortion. 

Whether it is used to propagandize a special cause or develop opinion 
through discussion* the radio is the great unifying agency of modern life. 

1 Sproul, R. G., in Radio and Education, p. 32, 1934. 

1 See Hard, W., "Radio and Public Opinion," Ann. Am. Acad. Pol Soc. Set., 177: 
105 ff. 


By means of radio and sound pictures, appeals may be made to large 
publics/ Issues are carried to ever larger groups, and the processes of 
discussion and decision have increased their tempo. There is a degree 
of national unity that is requisite for the functioning of the state and of 
economic processes. Modern life also requires speed of decision at many 
points. If large publics are to be consulted frequently in the mainte- 
nance of a democracy adapted to other aspects of modern life and if 
diverse publics are to be unified, the radio is a most opportune invention. 


Though speech over the radio is less personal than in face-to-face 
situations, it is obviously much more so than appeals by printed words. 
The wide experience of the average man with personal relationships 
gives to these a reality that far surpasses any impersonal stimulus. In 
his radio speech the day after the banks were closed in 1933, President 
Roosevelt instilled a widespread confidence that could not have been 
achieved by written proclamation. During his first year in office the 
President addressed 38,000 words to approximately sixty million listeners. 
Radio has brought a reemphasis upon the appeal of speech for persuasion. 
During the past ten years much of the controversy between representatives 
of the press and the radio has centered on the division of advertising fees. 
Important though this may be to the present owners of newspapers and 
radio stations, the essential conflict is between written and spoken 
appeals. The authority of print is challenged by the persuasiveness of 
speech. 1 

Through long experience the rules of oratory have been more or less 
exactly formulated. The principles of effective radio speech have been 
less exactly stated. There are differences, however, which make it 
difficult to speak to an audience and into the microphone at the same time. 
Effective leadership by means of radio speeches is an art. It is possible 
to make a few generalizations about radio speaking, but these do not 
encompass the essential appeal of the great speaker. In addressing large 
publics it is desirable that the speaker should avoid local or sectional 
inflections and vocabulary. These distract and alienate a part of the 
listening public. Clarity is essential. "Radio talks seem to require 
more concrete illustration and more repetition, apparently because the 
listener's mind is not acting as creatively as in the face-to-face situation.' 1 ' 2 
In radio speech, simplicity is at a premium. Of President Roosevelt, it 
is said, "He speaks right out with no 'high-falutin,' words. There is 

1 Educational psychology has been concerned over this problem for many years. 
Some recent experiments on the relative effectiveness of listening versus reading are 
summarized in Cantril and Allport, op. dt. t Chap. 9. 

' Ibid., p. 157. 


not much chance of Americans failing to get the meaning in such expres- 
sions as ' killing two birds with one stone'; 'we cannot ballyhoo ourselves 
back to prosperity'; 'the kind of prosperity that will lead us into another 
tail spin'; 'I have no expectation of making a hit every time I come to 
bat.' "* Brevity is requisite. Radio listeners are more readily tired 
than is an audience that can occupy itself with the personal character- 
istics of a speaker. In oratory, the finer shadings of emotional expression 
are in part presented by facial expression and gesture. The radio 
speaker must cultivate a greater variety of tone and inflection to com- 
municate these. Emotional appeals can be made in radio speaking, but 
the technique differs from that of the orator. In the early days of the 
radio, commentators declared that the demagogue was outmoded. Since 
then we have had many radio demagogues. The traditional tricks of 
platform demagoguery were largely outmoded, but new types of dema- 
gogues, implemented with new varieties of emotional appeal, have 
appeared. However, in general, radio speaking has been characterized 
by more frequent appeals to logical thinking than has popular oratory. 
Political controversy over the radio has appeared to have a more rational 
tone than have the oratorical efforts of spellbinders swinging round the 
circle. During the 1936 campaign, Father Coughlin, an exception to 
this rule, had large audiences of listeners but apparently had very little 
effect in changing voting habits. 

The art of radio leadership has already produced quite diverse types. 
The radio-listening multitude will project its tastes upon new types of 
leaders, and they in turn will mold anew the tastes of the listeners. In 
another decade it may be possible to limn more sharply the characteristics 
of the effective radio speaker. 


The successful operation of political democracy depends largely upon 
the interest and intelligence of the electorate and upon close contact 
between the voters and their chosen executives. Commentators agree 
that there has been some increased interest in political discussion and in 
public affairs since the popularization of broadcasting. Persons who are 
not politically minded will not become so immediately after buying a 
receiving set. However, many people who would not go to a political 
meeting do tune in on some political talks. It is probable that a part 
of the recent increase in voting in national elections may be ascribed to 
interest aroused by radio talks and to the broadcasting of nominating 
conventions. In the national elections of 1856, 1860 and 1864 the per- 
centages of the eligible vote that were cast were, respectively, 83.51, 
84.19 and 84.85. The figures remained at about 80 per cent until 1900. 

1 Dunlap, 0. E., New York Time* Mag., June 18, 1933, p. 17. 


In 1904, 68.0 per cent of those eligible voted; in 1912, 61.95 per cent; in 
1920, 52.36 per cent. This was the low point. In 1928, 63.86 per cent 
voted; in 1932, 65.13 per cent; in 1936, almost 70.0 per cent of the 
eligible voters appeared at the polls. 1 Of course, the emotion-arousing 
nature of the issues in the last three campaigns is primarily responsible 
for the widespread popular interest, but radio discussion of these issues 
was an important stimulant. 

Increased contact with national and state leaders and a greater 
familiarity with certain political processes have resulted from broad- 
casting. Not only can the political executive explain his position to 
listeners, but he can bring and has brought pressure to bear on the 
legislative branches through an aroused popular response. Moreover, 
men of influence and ability, other than political leaders, have been 
induced to talk over the radio. Such men, often unaccustomed to public 
speaking, would be unwilling to face large audiences. Such increased 
contact with leaders can promote the ends of dictators and authoritarians 
but may also vivify the democratic process. Interest in political func- 
tioning is stimulated by the broadcasting of political events and meetings, 
especially of the nominating conventions. Some political commentators 
have achieved large radio audiences, notably Boake Carter, II. V. 
Kaltenborn, F. W. Wile, William Hard and David Lawrence. Some 
types of popularization of politics have been forbidden by radio officials, 
as witness the refusal of both large chains to broadcast political skits in 
the last election. The companies contended that they should permit 
only straightforward statements of fact and opinion by responsible 
spokesmen. However, some dramatization of events inevitably occurs 
through the descriptions by announcers. The public functioning of 
personalities is high-lighted. 

Radio audiences are isolated as individuals and small groups. 
Although emotional appeals may be made over the radio, there can be 
no arousal of the mob feeling characteristic of the traditional political 
rally. The increasing importance of appeal to radio listeners is indicated 
by the fact that the chains sold 43 per cent more time for radio speeches 
in 1936 than in 1932. There were national hookups for over 200 hours 
of speaking in the last presidential campaign. 

Owing largely to the radio, local influences are increasingly tran- 
scended in politics. Important speeches are heard in every section of 
the country and by all classes of people. Local and sectional appeals 
are decreased. Of the local leaders in Middletown, the Lynds state, 
" These men own Middletown 's jobs and they largely own Middletown 's 
press. . . . The one important channel of communication which they 

1 Figures taken from table in Barnes, H. E., The History of Western Civilization, 
vol. II, p. 864, 1935. 


could not control was the national radio networks, which brought the 
other side before local voters, notably in President Roosevelt's own 
speeches/' 1 

Political discussion is largely canalized through the administrative 
offices of the great chains. A. N. Holcombe has recently queried as to 
whether it is compatible with proper freedom of the air to: (1) refuse to 
sell time to political committees except between conventions and elections, 
(2) refuse to permit broadcasting of dramatic political sketches, (3) 
insist on allocating free time for the discussion of controversial issues 
according to the editorial judgment of company executives and (4) 
exercise power of shutting off from the air at any time any portion of a 
speech that seems to the executives to be prejudicial to the best interests 
of the public. 2 If private ownership of the radio is retained, it is evident 
that there are many problems to be clarified regarding the selection of 
broadcasting content. 

New evidences of the influence of radio upon government and politics 
appear every year. The following list, though admittedly incomplete, 
presents those relations which appeared most important to W. F. Ogburn 
in 1932. 3 

On Government and Politics 

In government, a new regulatory function necessitated. 

Censorship problem raised because of charges of swearing, etc. 

Legal questions raised beginning with the right to the air. 

New specialization in law; four air law journals existing. 

New problems of copyright have arisen. 

New associations created, some active in lobbying. 

Executive pressure on legislatures, through radio appeals. 

A democratizing agency, since political programs and speeches are designed to 

reach wide varieties of persons at one time. 
Public sentiment aroused in cases of emergencies like drought. 
International affairs affected because of multiplication of national contacts. 
Rumors and propaganda on nationalism have been spread. 
Limits in broadcasting bands foster international arrangements. 
Communication facilitated among belligerents in warfare. 
Procedures of the nominating conventions altered somewhat. 
Constituencies are kept in touch with nominating conventions. 
Political campaigners reach larger audiences. 
The importance of the political mass meeting diminished. 
Presidential " barnstorming" and front porch campaign changed. 

1 Lynd, R. S., and Lynd, H. M., Middletown in Transition, p. 361, 1937. 
8 Summarized from Holcombe, A. N., Radio and Education, p. 118, 1936. 

See also, Denison, M., "Editorial Policies of Broadcasting Companies," Pub. 
Opin. Quar., 1:1: 64-83. 

8 Recent Social Trends, list on pp. 155-156. 


Nature of campaign costs affected. 
Appeal to prejudice of local group lessened. 
Campaign speeches tend to be more logical and cogent. 
An aid in raising campaign funds. 

Campaign speaking by a number of party leaders lessened. 
Campaign promises over radio said to be more binding. 

High government officers who broadcast are said to appear to public less distant 
and more familiar. 


The broadcasting of programs between nations has made not only for 
international understanding and amity, but also for misunderstanding 
and disruption of relations. The BBC has for its motto "Nation shall 
speak peace unto nation. " But newspaper headlines read, " Tension in 
Egypt Kept Up by Radio/' and " Britain Starts War of Tongues on 
Air Lane Foes." One reads that Brave New World is the title of a new 
series of broadcasts by the Educational Radio Project of the U. S. 
Department of Education. The aim of the series is to promote further 
the good-neighbor policy of this country toward Latin America. But 
one also reads " Europe Wages a War of Electric Words/' "The Battle 
of Radio Armaments/' "The Frontiers Are Ignored" and "Secret 
Broadcasts in Europe Defy Dictator's Efforts to Rule Radio, Historian 
Ferrero Says." Potentially, the radio can promulgate understanding of 
the culture, the life ways, standards and values of divergent peoples. A 
French ambassador has recently declared, "Still more useful in my 
opinion than a purely theoretical knowledge, than a mere knowledge of 
the book, is the comprehension of the psychology peculiar to each 
country, the awareness of its modes of living, the grasp of its conception 
of life, which. until now was the privilege solely of the traveller." 1 How- 
ever, it requires no great stretch of the imagination to conceive of an 
ambassador furious and baffled by the intrusion of a free, frank and 
democratic discussion of an issue that had been traditionally dealt with 
by diplomatic ritual. Radio can bring increased understanding, but thus 
far it has primarily accentuated narrow nationalistic differences. 

International communication was revolutionized by the invention of 
the wireless and radiobroadcasting. The political control of cable routes 
was no longer so important, nor did their ownership assure such monopo- 
listic control of communication, as had previously been the case. But 
new struggles for power and national advantage began at once. The 
problem of allocation of wave lengths has been most vexatious. By 
1925, interference caused by various stations on the same wave lengths 
had become intolerable. Abroad, the BBC called a conference in London 

1 De Laboulaye, Ambassador A., Educational Broadcasting, p. 128, 1936. 


of the principal European broadcasters. The International Radiophone 
Union was formed. This organization has no official standing with the 
governments concerned, but it allocates wave lengths. Enforcement is 
in the control of the various governments. The union reallocated wave 
lengths on the basis of population, area and educational needs of the 
various states. The International Radiophone Union was based on 
mutual understanding, and it was hoped that the nations would adhere 
to their allotted wave lengths. They did not do this. In 1929, a new 
allocation agreement, known as the Plan of Prague, became effective in 
Europe. European powers have not all observed this compact either. 
They have evaded it for various reasons. States that had not built 
many stations before the agreement now feel that the distribution is 
unjust. States in which several languages are spoken feel the need of 
numbers of stations disproportionate to their areas and population. 
States with propaganda missions feel the need of powerful stations to 
appeal to neighboring peoples and have constructed such stations. 
Control of radio facilities in Europe is still very confused. 1 In North 
America, the confusion was alleviated by the agreement between Canada 
and the United States in 1926. Canada was allotted the exclusive use 
of six, and the partial use of eleven, of the 96 available channels. Some 
United States stations did not respect the agreement, and an epidemic 
of wave jumping lasted until the formation of the Radio Commission in 
1927. Canada is not at present satisfied with this arrangement, main- 
taining that it should have at least twelve exclusive channels, whereas 
the United States point of view is that Canada has no legitimate 
need for additional channels, owing to her small population. However, 
the American controversy is simple in comparison with the chaotic con- 
ditions prevailing abroad. 

Much more vital than the disputes over wave lengths in Europe are 
the battles over invasion by propaganda. In the spring of 1930, the 
100-kilowatt station in Moscow began to broadcast talks in German, 
beginning with the statement " Police and soldiers of Germany, remember 
you are proletarians in uniform." A protest by the German govern- 
ment elicited the explanation that the Russians were broadcasting to the 
German settlers of the Volga basin. There were also a number of 
broadcasts to English workers. Radio has no frontiers. Thus, alien 
propaganda can be countered only by developing powerful stations 
capable of getting on the same wave length and making reception difficult 
or impossible in the invaded area. Hence, in 1930, governments started 
what can be described as a race in radio armaments. Germany has 
broadcast into Austria. The Czechoslovak government forbade its 

1 Biro, 8., "International Aspects of Radio Control," Jour. Radio Law, 2: 56 ff. 


citizens to tune in on German stations. Russia has made the reception 
of talks from the Vatican impossible in large sections of Germany and 
Poland. From Strasbourg, broadcasts in German with a French accent 
report news accounts that do not appear in German newspapers. 
What can governments do? They can forbid, and in a number of cases 
have forbidden, their subjects to listen to the alien broadcasts. They 
can encourage the distribution of weak receiving sets that are efficient 
only over small areas. The Germans have done this on a large scale, 
while at the same time they have built more and more powerful stations, 
certainly not for use exclusively within their own borders. And govern- 
ments can create a system of powerful stations to counter those of other 
countries. Therefore it is no accident that along the boundaries of 
Silesia four rival stations stand within forty miles of one another, or that 
there is a 150-kilowatt station in Luxemburg. For broadcasting within 
the United States, it is maintained that a 50-kilowatt station is ample, 
but Hungary has a station of 120 kilowatts, Poland's latest station is 
156 kilowatts, Vienna has a 120-kilowatt station and Russia has recently 
completed a 500-kilowatt transmitter. In 1933 the New York Times 
reported that in 1926 there were only about 100 kilowatts of broadcasting 
power in all of Europe, in 1929 there were 2000 and in 1933 there were 
7500 kilowatts. 1 Today there are several thousand additional kilowatts. 
Costly systems of powerful broadcasting stations have been built during 
the past few years, strategically placed for interference with the broad- 
casts of other powers, but inefficient and ill-placed in terms of their own 
centers of population. The radio has rapidly been transformed into an 
instrument of war or of national or ideological prestige. During the year 
1937, at 11:00 P.M., a mysterious wave length, the 29-meter wave length, 
carried to Italian and German citizens a virulent attack upon fascism and 
nazism. 2 The location of the transmitting station is unknown. 

International incidents have occurred over the transmitting of com- 
mercial broadcasts, over ideological interpenetrations, over the broad- 
casting of news that had been censored within the country and over 
radio agitation among the colonial peoples of another power. England 
does not have commercial advertisements in its broadcasting. But the 
powerful 150-kilowatt Luxemburg transmitter hurls forth commercial 
broadcasts in English, French and German. Ideological and news 
invasions of other countries occur nightly. And the Mediterranean basin 
is the arena of daily conflicting propagandas to colonial peoples. Lawless 
confusion increases through this means of communication which was to 
unite peoples. The BBC announced on Nov. 2, 1937, that they would 
begin to broadcast in Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and Afrikaans in 

1 New York Times Mag., p. 6, Sept. 10, 1933. 

Report by Ferrero. G., in St. Louis Post Dispatch, June 6, 1937. 


order to counter widespread anti-British propaganda. The areas and 
points of conflict increase, as does the tempo of appeals and counterappeals. 
Unfortunately for the psychological, and perhaps physical, peace of 
the world, the outlines of a system of control have not clearly emerged. 
Gentlemen's agreements as to wave lengths are not binding. Lately 
Russia has been broadcasting to Germany by changing the wave lengths 
at unexpected intervals for such Germans as care to listen in. It takes 
some time for the German stations to find out what the wave length is 
and adjust their equipment in order to counter it. International friction 
is constantly increased. Some national cohesion may be achieved by 
authoritarian government at the cost of international chaos. But there 
are limits to the effectiveness of propaganda by radio limits of human 
apathy, experience and credulity, which we have already discussed as 
applicable to all propaganda. We are fortunate in the United States, 
in that, though the general public has been guided in its choice of eco- 
nomic goods and children have been led to demand certain foods and 
psychologically exploited by horror stories, we have not experienced as 
yet the full persuasive power of the radio in propagating an exclusive 
economic or political doctrine. 


"The greatest problem of the motion picture today, Box Office suc- 
cesses and how to get them." 1 

"I look upon the cinema as a pulpit and use it as a propagandist." 1 

As an agency of mass impression the motion picture is now con- 
sidered by many as of greater importance than printing. Such commen- 
tators refer to the superiority of pictorial forms over printed forms in 
conveying impressions to the common man. Although these comparisons 
as to relative importance of print and picture are futile, it is evident that 
motion pictures have enormously vivified communication. In America, 
the bulk of popular pictorial stereotypes and personal symbols are 
acquired in the motion-picture theater. The rise of the motion picture 
and the radio during the last forty years has realigned the processes of 
communication, developed new publics and stimulated the dissemination 
of varied life ways, standards and values. It is indeed a rash commen- 
tator who becomes dogmatic as to their present or future effects and 
influence. The glib prophets of yesteryear appear today to have been 
somewhat bemused. 

The motion picture came into being as a result of a series of inventions 
made public in rapid succession in the early nineties. For a time it was 
exploited as a kind of carnival novelty, a peepshow. When its com- 
mercial possibilities were realized, it was seized upon and developed into 
a tremendous business. American motion pictures can be understood 
only on the basis of their economic history which is a vivid record of 
commercial exploitation for dramatically large profits and losses. 

The Kinetoscope, first patented by Edison in 1891, was publicly 
shown in New York on Apr. 14, 1894. Only one person at a time could 
watch the picture. 3 The projector and screen were developed by Thomas 
Armat, who exhibited motion pictures for the first time in 1895. The 
motion-picture cameras, film and projectors were rapidly improved by 
scores of inventions until, in 1928, the industry was equipped to produce 
and exhibit sound pictures. 

1 The topi